Churches seek end to stigma of HIV/AIDS

By on May 1, 2006

Canon Gideon Byamugisha, a Ugandan Anglican priest who is the first known African church leader to declare he is HIV-positive, told a recent meeting of religious leaders that he can envision a world free of AIDS.

Nairobi
Canon Gideon Byamu-gisha, the Ugandan Anglican priest who became the first known African church leader to declare he was HIV-positive, says the world could be free of AIDS by 2025 if it confronts hurdles like stigma and inaction in dealing with the pandemic.

“I am beginning to see a world free of AIDS,” Mr. Byamugisha said on March 15 at a meeting of religious leaders on combating stigma around HIV and AIDS. “With good partnerships, we can defeat stigma by 2009. The epidemic can also level off by 2015. We will then be talking of a world free of AIDS by 2025.”

But for a global victory over AIDS, Mr. Byamugisha said the world must first defeat stigma, shame, denial, discrimination, inaction and wrong actions, which he described as persistent stumbling blocks to the successful control of the pandemic. 

The meeting was organized by CARE International and the African Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (ANERELA+), which Mr. Byamugisha chairs. 

It also heard Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya restate a church apology to persons infected or affected with HIV/AIDS.

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