WASHINGTON, DC – A White House forum yesterday between administration officials and faith leaders took stock of the faith-based response to HIV and explored partnerships between faith communities and governments to uphold dignity and justice in the context of the HIV epidemic.
Leaders expressed appreciation for the U.S. government’s bipartisan commitment to the global and national HIV response, and administration officials highlighted the services, reach and leadership of the faith community. But both groups flagged patent barriers to treatment and anti-stigma advocacy within faith communities as challenges that must be addressed.
“Pharmaceuticals alone will not bring about an end to the HIV pandemic, and the faith-based community has a critical role in the response through promoting social opinions and community attitudes that either enhance and enable the response or, we have to admit, impede the response,” stated Peter Prove, executive director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
He described faith-based communities as providing the critical “software” of the HIV response.
“We want to walk with you in the development of the ‘software’ response,” Prove said, emphasizing the need to work with partners who can support and enable the faith community to change attitudes and increase services.
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, deputy executive director of UNFPA, emphasized that faith leaders are “critical agents of change.” Faith is an important part of the lives of most people and faith-based organizations provide up to 70 percent of basic health services in some countries, especially among hard-to-reach communities.
Read the full story on the International AIDS Conference website