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Statement: Keeping the Faith for an End to AIDS

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)

When the World Council of Churches holds its 11th Assembly in 2021, the world will also be marking 40 years since the first diagnosis of AIDS. The HIV epidemic has been like no other. Over four decades, AIDS has caused tens of millions of deaths, devastated families and communities, and challenged scientists and doctors seeking an effective vaccine or cure. While we celebrate recent medical advances that have provided effective methods of prevention and treatment to millions and give hope of eliminating the transmission of HIV and other epidemic diseases, the HIV epidemic is not over yet.

What has made HIV and AIDS so shattering is the deep injustice, inequality and vulnerability it has exposed in societies – and the level of silence, denial, and judgement in the face of human tragedy. The barriers to addressing the challenges of the HIV epidemic are not only access to medicine or biomedical responses but also stigma and discrimination, fear and the social determinants of health.

Our response to HIV and AIDS must be about people – those who are living with and vulnerable to being affected by HIV, and those who care for them. Their presence, lived experiences and participation remain central and essential to the ecumenical HIV and AIDS response. We acknowledge the gifts contributed by people living with HIV in educating us and enabling the medical research professionals to have more accurate evidence. Their voices and presence among us have themselves been a great gift to our communities and society.

The World Council of Churches has responded pastorally, practically and prophetically since the early days of the epidemic. From the 1986 WCC executive committee Statement on AIDS and the Churches, to the 2016 Pastoral Letter from the WCC central committee, “Churches Recommit to Accelerate HIV Response,” we as a fellowship of churches have embraced the biblical imperatives of human dignity, love and compassion.

As we near four decades of HIV and AIDS, our work and our commitment cannot falter.


The executive committee, meeting in Bossey, Switzerland, on 22-28 May 2019, calls on WCC member churches to:

  • Renew their commitment to prioritizing programmes that address HIV and AIDS;
  • Strengthen efforts to overcome HIV-related stigma and discrimination;
  • Promote greater access to HIV and AIDS medical and pastoral services within our churches and societies;
  • Enhance communication and conversation on the issues that render people vulnerable to HIV and AIDS;
  • Increase funding commitments to HIV and AIDS related work;
  • Join in advocacy ecumenically and with national and international movements for an end to the pandemic.