Theological consultation on HIV prevention
05 February 2008
Atieno Odenyo, regional partnerships
advisor for UNAIDS in Eastern and
Southern Africa, emphasized the roles
and responsibilities of faith communities
in the international HIV arena.
The role of Christian faith in responding to the AIDS epidemic was the focus of a consultation that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 28 January to 2 February.
The focus of the consultation was to discuss how Christian faith and practice can deepen engagement, compassion, and effectiveness in HIV prevention efforts -- not simply by focusing on personal behavior, but by addressing the wider social, political and economic injustices in society which make some people more vulnerable to HIV infection.
The consultation, convened by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, brought together 35 theologians, ethicists, practitioners and Christians living with HIV from a broad range of Christian traditions including Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Orthodox, Reformed, Roman Catholic and Uniting churches.
"We are fully aware that HIV prevention touches on very sensitive issues in many cultures and faith traditions," said Linda Hartke, coordinator of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. "For us, the most important element of HIV prevention is to break the silence, particularly in Christian communities, that surrounds evidenced- based HIV prevention, including addressing vulnerability and root causes of HIV transmission," she added.
The report of the consultation will be used to promote further theological reflection and networking, building on the long and active involvement of faith-based organizations in the response to AIDS. The report, once finalized, will be available from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
Atieno Odenyo, regional partnerships advisor for UNAIDS in Eastern and Southern Africa, emphasized the roles and responsibilities of faith communities in the international HIV arena. She challenged churches and faith communities to be involved in HIV prevention on the global, national, community and individual level.