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Minute on Strengthening the Ecumenical Response to HIV/AIDS

The WCC Central Committee, meeting in Geneva 16-22 February 2011, approved this Minute on Strengthening the Ecumenical Response to HIV/AIDS.

23 February 2011

Imitating Christ’s Humility

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians 2: 1,2,5)

1. The three decades of living with HIV and AIDS in our world has been a journey of revelation of our vulnerabilities and strengths as communities, churches and as individuals. Even though the world has made great progress in care, prevention and treatment, there are more than 33 million people living with HIV in the world today. While currently there are more than five million people on HIV treatment, nearly 10 million people are waiting to receive treatment. And though the spread of the disease has slowed in many regions, in 2009 there were an estimated 2.6 million new HIV infections worldwide.

2. WCC started to work on HIV and AIDS 25 years ago and many member churches have made great strides in dealing with HIV in a holistic manner. It is the tenth year of service of the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa, working with Churches and faith communities in accompanying people living with HIV and in transforming the theological perspectives in facing HIV and in striving to become compassionate and competent in confronting the root causes of the pandemic.

3. But the factors that make our communities vulnerable continue to challenge us. Poverty and inequity; violence and insecurity; broken relationships in families and communities; the low priority given to women and children in society; the inability to address the issues related to human sexuality and intravenous drug use; fragile livelihoods and lack of food security; lack of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, all contribute to this vulnerability.  The decline in international and national investments in countering HIV and the inertia in mainstreaming HIV prevention, care and treatment into our daily life, threatens to undo the gains that have been made over the decades.

The Central Committee of the WCC, meeting in Geneva 16-22 February 2011, calls the churches of the WCC to:

1. Remember the millions of lives lost to AIDS and to continue to uphold their families and communities in prayer and action.

2. Acknowledge the ongoing work of churches and faith communities in accompanying all those among us who live with HIV and those affected by the impact of the pandemic and to praise God for the witness of those living positively with HIV.

3. Review the work we have done thus far in our own contexts and to fully participate, with civil society and governments in the UN General Assembly Comprehensive AIDS Review to be held in June 2011.

4. Renew our commitment to serve communities in light of the changing face of the pandemic and the transforming needs of all people affected by the disease, including:

(a) children born with HIV approaching sexual maturity;

(b) couples where one or both are living with HIV;

(c) widows, widowers and orphans;

(d) communities, to ensure that universal access to prevention, care, support and treatment of HIV reach the millions who are yet to receive it.

5. Persevere in eliminating stigma and discrimination against those who are living with HIV and AIDS.

6. Strengthen the work of regional and national networks contributing to the ecumenical response to HIV, sharing good practises, experiences and resources.

7. Reaffirm our ecumenical commitment to ‘Live the Promise,’ strengthening the campaign of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, working with civil society to measure up to our responsibility and embracing the vision of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) ‘Zero new infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths’.

APPROVED

Triune God, our healer and strength, we bring to you the pain of the world and those who live under the shadow of death due to the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Forgive us for our complacency and our failure to act sufficiently, and to hold those in power accountable. We pray that you help us to see the face of Christ in all who are living with HIV, to help and support each other with compassion and love. We also pray that you grant us the grace and courage to make ourselves and our communities less vulnerable to HIV. Amen.