World AIDS Day 2016: Lead by Example
World AIDS Day is commemorated on 1 December each year. It is an opportunity to remind ourselves that HIV has not gone away; that there is still a vital need to increase awareness, fight prejudice, stigma and discrimination, improve education, increase access to testing and treatment, raise funds and promote human rights.
This year for World AIDS Day, the World Council of Churches will launch a campaign – Leading by Example: Religious Leaders and HIV Testing. We are encouraging religious leaders to promote HIV testing and get tested for HIV. The aim is to overcome the stigma of HIV testing by showing that having the test done is not a statement about morality, but a health practice that all should do. At present, fewer than 50% of people living with HIV know their HIV status. Faith leaders and communities can make a huge difference in overcoming the stigma surrounding HIV testing! We can show that knowing your status is important for everyone, because HIV is a virus, not a moral condition.
A prayer service for World AIDS Day is available in English. The service celebrates all that has been achieved in the response to HIV and AIDS, but it also recognizes that HIV remains one of the most critical areas needing intervention today. This service encourages religious leaders and each one of us to become actor of change against the stigma and discrimination that surround HIV and AIDS limiting access to testing, treatment, care and support for all those in need. The book of Nehemiah reminds us that change is fostered by initiative which transcends our comfort zones, imagination which is grounded in concrete action and inspiration which leads by example and becomes infectious. 1 December falls on a Thursday this year, which gives us an added opportunity to lift up in support of WCC’s Thursday in Black Campaign towards a world without rape and violence.
Leading by Example: Religious Leaders and HIV Testing – An exhibit of posters of religious leaders supporting our campaign will be on display at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva and will be available for downloading to help support HIV testing events at your church or faith community.
Additional material on what people of faith can do to help speed up the response to HIV is available here.
If you have worship resources, bible studies, reflections or other suggestions for World AIDS Day actions, please send them to Francesca Merico, HIV Campaign Coordinator so that we can share them more widely!