The leader of the women league praying for the the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) of the Christian Council of Nigeria.

Rev. Dr Uzoaku Williams, Assistant General Secretary of The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and president of the women wing of the Christian Council of Nigeria, praying for the the Youth Advisory Board (YAB) of the Christian Council of Nigeria.


From 10-12 June, an event entitled Testing the testing: HIV pre-marital testing and disclosure” addressed the fact that religious leaders, both from Christian and Muslim communities, are requesting HIV testing for marrying couples and, when one is positive, they refuse to marry them. This causes pain, more stigma and isolation, and sometimes suicide.

During the workshop, faith leaders agreed stop making such testing mandatory but instead to encourage HIV education and voluntary testing of all people. 

From 14-16 June, another training, entitled The essence of positive living for young people,” focused on education for adherence to treatment among young people living with HIV. In this activity, the Christian Council of Nigeria selected a Youth Advisory Board that will advise on issues related to young people and adolescents.

A third activity, entitled Families living with HIV,” focused on children and mothers living with HIV.

All three activities resulted in renewed and strengthened church and community commitments, as well as building awareness about a healthy and constructive response to HIV and AIDS. 

Public commitments

In a document entitledInterfaith Affirmations on HIV Premarital Testing and Disclosure,” interfaith leaders, people living with HIV, and other stakeholders, affirmed their commitment to ensuring a supportive environment that respects the dignity and health of all individuals.

We affirm that disclosure of one's HIV status should be voluntary and not forced on intending couples,” reads the message. We affirm our dedication to continued education of communities about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, creating an environment for knowledge and empowerment.”

The document also affirms the commitment of religious and community leaders to zero HIV stigma and discrimination in faith communities by the year 2030.

The effectiveness of HIV interventions today allows families where one member is living with HIV, to have safe pregnancies and birth,” reads the text.

More government intervention 

Christian leaders also called for more government interventions in fighting HIV stigmatization in Nigeria.

Studies found that about half of the population in Nigeria harbors HIV-related stigma. Younger individuals, men, those without formal education, and those within lower wealth indices are more likely to hold stigmatizing views towards people living with the virus. 

Especially vulnerable to stigma are 160,000 kids living with HIV in Nigeria. 

The Christian Council of Nigeria urged the government and relevant stakeholders to intensify efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS among children in the nation.

The council made the call at the closeout ceremony of the HIV intervention program in Abuja.

Christian Council of Nigeria president Most Rev. David Onuoha, who was represented by Archbishop Peter Ogunmuyiwa, decried the high number of children living with HIV in Nigeria, stressing the need for urgent action to address the situation.

He said, Our mission is to identify with the needy and less privileged, and to make a positive impact on their lives. Our efforts have been enriching and impactful.”

Gracia Violeta Ross, WCC programme executive for HIV, Reproductive Health, and Pandemics, reiterated the WCCs support, particularly for vulnerable children. 

Remember that two million people are living with HIV in Nigeria. They will have partners and children. In what condition will these children be born?” she asked. 

We must change things. If these children are alone and dont have a family, the church has to be their family. This is the calling that we should become the father of the fatherless and fight for the widows and fight for justice.”

Rev. Dr Evans Onyemara, general secretary of the Christian Council of Nigeria, expressed appreciation for the WCCs support, highlighting success stories from the programmes implementation in several states.

Onyemara also acknowledged the contributions of partners and stakeholders, including the National Agency for the Control of AIDS and Christian Health Association of Nigeria.

He said, We appreciate the support of our partners and acknowledge their contributions. We look forward to continuing our work together and celebrating our successes in the future.”

Gracia Violeta Ross, WCC programme executive for HIV, Reproductive Health, and Pandemics,

Gracia Violeta Ross, WCC programme executive for HIV, Reproductive Health, and Pandemics.