Fifty-five religious leaders from fourteen Caribbean countries were urged to remain committed to the recommendations of the Caribbean Faith Leaders Consultation on their contribution to ending AIDS by 2030, held in Trinidad and Tobago on 1-2 February 2017.
Recommendations included “Seeking to engage representatives of key populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, drug users and others in programmes aimed at identifying respective rights and responsibilities involved in the process toward the elimination of AIDS-related stigma and discrimination”.
UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Luiz Loures, in closing remarks told the gathering –
“Today we have the science to end this epidemic, what we lack is the social movement and will of communities”.
Dr. Loures referred to the position of trust held by religious organizations at the centre of communities, noting that such organizations were uniquely positioned to provide services and support which extended beyond the reach of many public health systems.
“…you have a powerful impact on the way communities think and act… your work to address stigma and discrimination in the wider community is critical”, he told the leaders representing the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Bahá'í, and Vodoo faiths.
“…you have affirmed during this consultation, HIV is a virus, not a moral judgement”, he continued, as he urged the leaders and all partners “to collaborate and contribute to ending AIDS, based on their shared values relating to the inherent value of life, human dignity and compassion”.
The Consultation was supported by the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and AIDS HealthCare Foundation.
Under the theme ‘Religious Leaders’ Contribution to the End of AIDS by 2030’, the initiative was coordinated by a Planning Committee of Religious Leaders and the PANCAP Coordinating Unit.