Faith at AIDS 2018

Providing space for networking, learning and advocacy among people of faith responding to HIV and AIDS


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Claiming Our Space at AIDS 2018

Claiming Our Space at AIDS 2018

Anggia Ermarini speaks at an AIDS 2016 session on "The Challenges of Faith Responses to the AIDS Epidemic"

05 July 2018

By Tyler Fuller

Members of the Faith Building Bridges organizing committee began our first meeting saying why we believe it is important to have a faith-based presence at the 2018 International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). Two common themes emerged: to build partnerships and to highlight faith-based work in the responses to HIV and AIDS.

Both responses are wonderful, and I see them build on the reason that I think it is important for faith-based organizations (FBOs), faith leaders, and faith communities to be present and active at IAC2018: because religion and faith are important parts of many individuals’ and communities’ lives and ways of making meaning of the world.

At times it may seem like the responses to the HIV and AIDS epidemics are separate from religion or that religion only has a negative impact on the responses. Yet, we know this is not completely true; FBOs, faith leaders, and faith communities also contribute to effective responses to the HIV and AIDS epidemics.

FBOs, faith leaders, and faith communities have strengths to add to the responses to HIV and AIDS. We bring understandings of human dignity, commitments to healing, and pastoral care with us that can contribute to meaningful and effective responses to HIV and AIDS.

The impacts of FBOs, faith leaders, and faith communities are diverse and nuanced, just like personal and communal experiences of faith. Religion is complex, nuanced, and diverse; in addition, faith is often deeply personal. Therefore, we recognize the ways that they inform understandings and responses to the HIV and AIDS epidemics.

Studying and working in the response to HIV, I see individuals and communities approach the intersection of faith and HIV in diverse ways. Common themes I see are individuals and communities seeking a way for faith to help them understand HIV or to guide their participation in response efforts.

By participating in Faith Building Bridges* and AIDS 2018# FBOs, faith leaders, and faith communities will serve as an example to others that it is possible for faith to guide how we make positive and meaningful responses to the HIV and AIDS epidemics. We will claim a space for others of faith in the responses to the HIV and AIDS epidemics. By being present, reflecting on our work, and sharing our stories, challenges, and best practices we will be living examples of the diverse, nuanced, and sometimes subtle ways that religion and faith inform individual and communal interpretations and responses to HIV.

Many people and communities around the world experience faith in meaningful ways. Faith helps us make meaning of the world around us and can also inform how we approach the responses to HIV and AIDS. The faith-based presence at AIDS2018 will recognize this, honoring the importance of faith for individuals and communities, helping us make meaning of our experiences, and claiming our space at AIDS 2018.

*More information about the Faith Building Bridges affiliated event can be found at: http://iacfaith.org/registration

Registration is still open and direct access is available at: https://faith-building-bridges.eventbrite.com

# More information about faith events at AIDS2018 can be found at: http://iacfaith.org/faith-at-aids-2018