Intervention by David Barstow, EMPACT Africa, on the UN Panel on Stigma and Discrimination, during the United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, 8-10 June 2016, New York

Your excellencies, distinguished panelists, delegates. Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this topic of immense importance.

My name is David Barstow. I am speaking on behalf of the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, and other faith-based organizations. In discussions of stigma and discrimination, religious groups are often seen as barriers. But, in fact, there are many faith-based organizations and leaders, from all faith traditions, that are actively working to end stigma and discrimination. These organizations are dedicated to ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and respect, especially including members of key populations who have been marginalized by society. These organizations are working diligently at all levels, global, regional, national, and local. I would urge all of us to strengthen the partnerships with faith-based organizations and to scale up faith-based initiatives against stigma and discrimination. Unless we scale up faith-based initiatives, dramatically and quickly, stigma and discrimination will prevent us from reaching the 90-90-90 targets by 2020 and will prevent us from ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. In this regard, I would call your attention to a Call to Action and signed by religious leaders at an Interfaith Prayer Service on Tuesday evening, which includes a commitment to end stigma and discrimination, and to defend human rights. We look forward to continuing to work with you in the days and years ahead. And we pray for a time when there is no longer a need for a panel on stigma and discrimination. Thank you.