How goes the battle against HIV/AIDS?

A 2010 "World AIDS Day" rally in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo: Asianet/Pakistan
A 2010 "World AIDS Day" rally in Karachi, Pakistan. Photo: Asianet/Pakistan
Published November 29, 2011

How well have faith communities met their commitments to raise awareness about HIV-AIDS and to combat stigma and discrimination?

Today and tomorrow, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim leaders from around the world are meeting in Toronto to take a good, hard look.

A statement on their assessment and goals for future action will be released on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.

The 15 leaders, some living with HIV, are among the signatories to “My Personal Commitment to Action.” This document, which came out of a summit held last year in The Netherlands, includes a pledge to exercise stronger leadership in response to the HIV pandemic and to “influence local, national, regional and global decision-making processes.”

Since HIV-AIDS was first reported in 1981, more than 25 million people have died. What’s more, it is estimated that as of the end of 2010, 35 million people now are living with HIV.

The Nov. 29-30 meeting, organized by the Geneva-based Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), will also be attended by groups active in HIV-AIDS advocacy work, including The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), World AIDS Campaign, UNAIDS and Global Network of People Living with HIV.

The World AIDS Day theme for 2011-2015 is “Getting to Zero” and the World AIDS Campaign is focusing on targets of zero for new infections, discrimination and AIDS-related deaths.

Progress is being made to stem the tide of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, according to UNAIDS, the United Nations program on HIV/AIDS. However, it also warns that such gains are being threatened by a decline in funding.

In its World AIDS Day 2011 report, UNAIDS says that annual new HIV infections fell 21 per cent between 1997 and 2010. In addition, greater access to antiretroviral therapy has reduced AIDS-related deaths, particularly in low to middle-income countries where more than 6.6 million–or half of those eligible-are receiving HIV treatment.

Greater investment in tuberculosis and malaria programs also has resulted in a reduction in deaths among people living with HIV. However, projected shortfalls through the international financing institution “Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” could change this.

For parishes, PWRDF recommends a worship resource developed by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, “2011 HIV AIDS Liturgy Zero Discrimination for the World AIDS Day commemoration.”

PWRDF is commemorating World Aids Day with a service at All Saints Anglican Church, located at the corner of Sherbourne and Dundas streets, Toronto.


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