Roadmap for faith-based organizations to expand access to HIV treatment

27 February 2014

Churches and other faith-based organizations are the largest single group providing health care services for HIV—contributing up to 50% of facility-based and community care in some countries.

In order to develop a roadmap to increase faith-based groups’ work in providing life-saving HIV treatment, Caritas Internationalis and UNAIDS co-organized a consultation from 25-26 February in Rome.

Progress made to date; the hope that the end of the AIDS epidemic may be possible by ensuring both the dignity of the person and access to services for all; and the commitment and urgency to act were common themes throughout the meeting. 

Specific issues discussed in the meeting included: 

  • The significant role of the faith community both in delivering services and in ensuring the dignity of the person,
  • Collecting and presenting data that demonstrates impact of the work of the faith based community
  • The need to increase financial investment in HIV treatment services
  • Accelerating work to close the gap in testing and treatment for children
  • Including faith-based organizations in national platforms at country level
  • Ensuring coordination––not duplication––of services in areas supported by multiple donors


Participants included representatives from Christian faith traditions, UN organizations, Vatican offices, governments, donors, the medical and scientific community, and the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

The Consultation was supported by UNAIDS, Caritas Internationalis, UNITAID, the United States Embassy to the Holy See and CUAMM- Doctors for Africa. Cosponsors included the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, Catholic Relief Services, and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

Key outcomes 

The main areas identified for further collaboration between international organisations and faith based communities included increased research on results of faith-based HIV treatment programmes, strategic communication about the work of the organizations on the ground, and sharing of good practice models. UNAIDS committed to facilitate dialogues in countries on the role of faith-based organizations in the HIV response.


"In all cases, place, at the centre of all our health care interventions, the people [living with HIV], their dignity, their needs and rights."

Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care


"We are entering a new phase where we can see the beginning of the end of AIDS. The faith communities have the scale, and the means to move us forward. You care about the dignity of the person and it is only this unique combination of access to drugs and dignity that can provide the necessary drive to reach the end of the AIDS epidemic."

Luiz Loures, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director Programme, UNAIDS


"We can only go so far when you have increased targets and decreased resources."

Fr. Edward Phillips, President of the Board of Directors, HIV and AIDS Programme, Eastern Deanery – Nairobi Archdiocese


"Churches are still struggling to understand the epidemic and its role advocating for holistic care of those living with HIV.” Rev. Mabizela identified Issues like inequality between women and men, poverty and apathy as “our worst enemies."

Rev. Phumzile Mabizela, Executive Director, International Network of People Living with or Personally Affected by HIV or AIDS (INERELA+)