Today, December 1, is World AIDS day. It is an opportunity for people worldwide to come together in solidarity with people living with HIV and to recognize those who have died due to AIDS related illnesses. As people of faith, we believe that we are all made in God’s image and we stand with our brothers, sisters, friends, and neighbors, living with HIV.
In North Carolina, 34,963 people are living with HIV. On World AIDS Day, we call upon faith communities and people of faith to take four steps.
- HIV remains heavily stigmatized. We ask people of faith to incorporate stigma reduction language around HIV in their everyday lives. You can find examples of stigma reduction language here.
- Take the time to learn more about HIV. There is an excellent podcast on the history of HIV here. Additionally, there are great organizations in NC working on HIV education and support for people living with HIV. You can see some examples here.
- Listen to people with HIV! People with HIV are experts in their own lives and know their needs. Invite someone living with HIV to speak with your faith community.
- Host an HIV testing event in your faith community. By normalizing testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV, we can decrease stigma.
In July, Partners in Health and Wholeness was honored to become a Gilead Compass Transformative Grant Partner from the Faith Compass Coordinating Center at Wake Forest Divinity School. This work on HIV is rooted in our other focus areas of harm reduction and mental health. In those programs, we have focused on eliminating stigma and fostering compassion among faith communities. We know that faith communities have a long history of being agents for change in their communities and invite you to become more involved in the effort to identify and support people living with HIV.
On December 10, we will host a virtual event titled “Sacred Conversations: HIV 101”. Join us to learn what HIV looks like in North Carolina and how faith communities can get involved. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.
For more information about our work around HIV, follow Partners in Health and Wholeness’s website and social media.
For other resources, check out the Faith Compass Coordinating Center.