The first tool is “Recommended Practices to Combat HIV-Related Stigma: A Guidebook for Local Faith Communities.” This publication presents experiences of local congregations responding to HIV stigma.
The second tool is “Faith Sector Implementation of the Global AIDS Strategy.” As the HIV epidemic continues to present a challenge for today’s world, the engagement and action of faith communities, in coordination with other actors, are crucial if we want to realize the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, shared reflections and a prayer to open the webinar. “During this World AIDS Day and with all these tools, we want to lift up the truth about the situation regarding HIV,” he said. “We are mandated to work against untruth.”
Gracia Violeta Ross, programme executive for WCC Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy, moderated the discussion. “The purpose of these documents is the idea of strengthening the response to HIV,” she said. “UNAIDS has demonstrated total commitment to the faith sector in HIV response.”
Jacek Tyszko, UNAIDS, expressed his high appreciation for the new tools. “These tools are the stuff that helps us to stand up from our comfort zone and to go to help other people, and I think in this particular case why we value so much the relationship with the World Council of Churches and other faith-based actors involved in HIV response,” he said.
Dr David Barstow, a computer scientist by training who felt a calling to be involved in HIV response, presented the tools. “Many faith actors have made contributions along these lines for a long time,” he said. “The challenge is to scale up.”
The faith sector isn’t a single entity, he noted. “When listing these faith actors I want to especially emphasize the importance of local faith communities,” he said. “Now, what would it mean to have quantitative targets for faith sector in global AIDS response?”
Barstow continues through the webinar, answering this and other questions while highlighting the two new tools.