UN: UNAIDS urges strong faith response to end AIDS by 2030

New York, US (PANA) - A strong faith response is critical to achieving the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Fast-Track Targets by 2020 and to ending AIDS by 2030, UNAIDS said in a statement, obtained by PANA in New York on Wednesday.

The need for the greater faith response was made at the ongoing 21st International AIDS Conference, being held in Durban, South Africa.

Speaking at a session on faith response to HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Luiz Loures said: "There is a greater urgency today, we have a narrow window to control the AIDS epidemic, to see the end of AIDS.

"At least 30 per cent of HIV service delivery needs to be delivered by communities and the faith community has a critical role to play in delivering those services and in addressing stigma and discrimination."

He noted that gathering data about faith activities is often very difficult, especially in the context of the AIDS epidemic, where there are often perceptions of conflict between religious values and health priorities.

Loures said progress has been made, as reported in a special edition of the Lancet on faith and health care.

"The two of the papers in the Lancet special edition: one on data and one on controversies, noted that faith community responses do not always match international strategy, and there is the importance of viewing faith-based initiatives as part of an integrated health-care system.

"As the AIDS epidemic has progressed through history, the importance of the faith response has become increasingly," Loures said.

A recently launched joint initiative of UNAIDS and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief aimed at strengthening the faith response to HIV, with the hope that faith-based initiatives would be major contributors to the community-based responses that are critical to ending the AIDS epidemic.

Cape Town's Anglican Archbishop Thabo Cecil Makgoba said: "HIV has profoundly challenged us as a church. Human dignity, especially the dignity of women, is non-negotiable."

Archbishop Makgoba said the response of his church to reports of "corrective rape" has led him to launch initiatives against gender-based violence and human trafficking.

He noted that the data showed that HIV prevalence among survivors of sexual violence was much higher than among the general population.

He also stressed the need to stop new HIV infections and accelerate efforts to enhance treatment of people living with AIDS.

PANA learnt that during the session, issues on community perspective to HIV/AIDS response were also addressed, including the process of raising awareness on HIV using Muslim principles and religious texts, as well as the vital role that religious leaders play in reducing the effects of stigma.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  20July2016

20 juillet 2016 17:54:09

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