In an opening spiritual moment, the group prayed for the millions of people across the world who are living with HIV.
Brian Muyunga, a youth member of the WCC executive committee, moderated the discussion, and he echoed calls for more young people to be involved in HIV and AIDS response. He also noted that response should be equal with regard to age or faith community. “You say HIV has no religion—that is key for us to note,” he said.
WCC deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri offered opening remarks that included an overview of the WCC’s history of responding to HIV and AIDS since 1984. “Today we commemorate World AIDS Day,” she said, “Our response is a matter of justice for everyone who is affected by HIV.”
Jacek Tyszko, senior programme advisor of UNAIDS, spoke of how UNAIDS is urging people to address the inequalities associated with HIV response, and also expressed his appreciation for the involvement of the faith community. “The inequalities which perpetuate the AIDS epidemic are not inevitable, and we can tackle them,” said Tyszko.
This year’s slogan for World AIDS Day is “Equalize,” which Tyszko noted is a call to action. “We have only eight years left until the 2030 goal to end AIDS as a global health threat,” he said.
Dr Manoj Kurian, WCC coordinator of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, offered a background of history of HIV-related work in many communities as well as the international work that has been happening in WCC, both currently and in the past.
Gracia Ross, programme executive for WCC Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy, shared details about the work the WCC has done in Africa as well as in other countries, with the mission to “empower the faith community in order to make it confident for the HIV response,” she said.