Religious leaders and HIV testing
Leading by example to end AIDS
Today 37 million people are living with HIV. All of them need access to life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, but only 16 million currently receive it.
One of the first steps to treatment is knowing if you are HIV positive. But getting people to test has its own challenges. At present, fewer than 50% of people living with HIV know their HIV status. Some don’t know the facts about HIV transmission or treatment. Some don’t have easy access to the test. But many are afraid of the stigma they may encounter just by getting tested.
Faith leaders and communities can make a huge difference in overcoming the stigma surrounding HIV testing! We can show that knowing your status is important for everyone, because HIV is a virus, not a moral condition.
The role of churches, faith leaders and faith communities
Religious leaders have the capacity to reach people from the “halls” of political and policy-making power to the grassroots level.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines is demonstrating this through their “Testing the Clergy Poster Campaign”: road-side posters showing bishops who have gone for an HIV test inspire others to undergo the test as well.
You can join the campaign “Leading by Example: Religious Leaders and HIV Testing”!
- Promote testing in your church and faith community: lead by example by getting tested and/or by allowing your photo to be taken for the social media poster series on “Leading by Example: Religious Leaders and HIV Testing".
- Encourage people to get tested through your sermons, or find other ways of sharing accurate information about HIV testing and treatment and promotes a non-discriminatory community. In some communities, a mobile HIV testing unit can be organized through the local government or health service.
- Set an HIV testing Sunday each month, or an HIV testing week or month each year.
- Share with media the importance of HIV testing and the example being set by you and your faith community. For example, write a letter to the editor of your newspaper
Where can I go to get tested?
There are multiple locations for someone to go and get tested for HIV. The first place they can go is to their own personal health care provider. HIV testing is offered at both public and private health clinics. These locations can include: Hospitals, sexual health clinics, substance abuse clinics, community health centers, and family planning clinics. Even certain pharmacies offer HIV tests. Another way to locate where HIV testing is provided is the HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator although this does not work for all areas.
Download a free poster exhibition of religious leaders leading by example (pdf, 2.1 MB). Print it, and help spread the word.