UCCP – Cosmopolitan Church has joined hands with other faith-based organizations with HIV programs, and various advocacy groups at a forum to heighten the need to work together to end the cyclical pattern of stigma, shame, denial, discrimination, in-action, mis-action associated with HIV/AIDS.
In participation were the United Nations Organization HIV/AIDS Program (UNAIDS), the World Council Of Churches (WCC), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the national United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), and the International Religious Leaders Living with and Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS (INERELA).
According to Rev. Canon Dr. Gideon B. Byamugisha, churches need to be able to discuss issues they may not find comfortable discussing for them to properly deal with HIV. Byamugisha was the first religious leader in Africa to publicly disclose his HIV-positive status in 1992 in an effort to break the silence, stigma, shame, denial and discrimination that is usually associated with being HIV-positive.
The same core lesson was stressed by Rev. Phumzile Mabizela, executive director of INERELA, as she similarly stressed for more openness for churches to be able to respond to the needs of people infected with, or affected by HIV. Instances show that HIV is worsened by “the stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV,” she said.
The faith-based organizations are now looking at working together to unify efforts to help address HIV.