Faith communities building bridges
Faith Building Bridges, the interfaith pre-conference event that was held before the International AIDS Conference, ended on 22 July. The participants joined together in a common voice to demand that the world recommit to ending AIDS and that world leaders take strong actions now, and in the future, to ensure that the AIDS epidemic is brought to an end.
Some 150 representatives of faith-based organizations, religious leaders, health-care providers, activists, policy-makers and other stakeholders attended Faith Building Bridges, which was convened by the World Council of Churches–Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. Sessions included migration and how it puts people at risk of HIV infection, role of faith groups in ending TB, as well as how faith communities can strategically support children and adolescents living with HIV.
At the closure of Faith Building Bridges, faith activities transitioned to the faith networking zone in the Global Village, where UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé engaged faith leaders in a lively dialogue on 24 July. He focused on the critical role of faith communities as champions of social justice to help eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
Commemorating friends who died from AIDS-related illnesses and expressing hope and solidarity, people of diverse faiths came together in an interfaith prayer and memorial service on 23 July at the Keizersgrachtkerk in Amsterdam.
People of faith marched in solidarity with other conference delegates from the interfaith prayer service to the International AIDS Conference, expressing solidarity and commitment to the global response to HIV.
An interfaith networking zone in the Global Village will include events focusing on the importance of religious leadership in promoting HIV testing, testing and treatment for children and adolescents, addressing tuberculosis and HIV coinfection and strengthening interfaith responses to HIV.
“No one can help us more than the church in overcoming stigma. This is your natural terrain, fighting for social justice.”
MICHEL SIDIBÉ EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNAIDS
“Hope should be seen as a human right in our world today.”
MARZOUK AULAD ABDELLAH IMAM
“We are here at this International AIDS Conference and we come as those carrying a banner of hope and a banner of possibility for all of those in the world.”
EDWIN SANDERS METROPOLITAN INTERDENOMINATIONAL CHURCH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
“We have an opportunity to continue the transformative impact of faith. Diversity has to inform our debate and our actions.”
AZZA KARAM SENIOR ADVISER, UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND