Role of Faith-based organizations in Turning the Tide against the HIV Epidemic
Faith based organizations are effective partners in the response to the HIV epidemic. This is as demonstrated by the experiences of three different religious denominations focusing on various aspects of the epidemic: prevention (VCT, training, advocacy) care and treatment
P. Boonchuay Doojai Asian Interfaith Network on AIDS working with Christians, Muslims and Buddhists in Thailand. Monks working with HIV positive persons introduced him to the epidemic. They started by housing PLWHAs at temples and with the support of government and the Global Fund provide prevention care and support through a best practice programme.
M.Sembereka of Malawi acknowledges the role of the church in stigmatizing PLWHA at the start of the epidemic. His established network of about 1,500 religious leaders living with HIV, provides leadership to turn the tide by fighting stigma. He expressed concern that Western aid interventions have sometimes undermined the African effort.
K. Warren had an epiphany in 2002 after reading about 12 million children orphaned in Africa. She developed a strategy for the church to help in inexpensive ways: testing, care and training programmes, know your status. Working in Rwanda from 2005, she was able to train7000 care workers.
- The non-medical sector (including FBOs) must take on a more active role which does not rely on international aid.
- The church should be a principle area of focus as the network, unlike others, is strong, wide and lasting.
- Inter faith partnerships are effective