The United Church of Christ in the Philippines – Cosmopolitan Church (UCCP- Cosmopolitan Church) has launched a resource book on HIV and AIDS.
The resource book, “Working Towards Ending Stigma, Shame, Denial, Discrimination, Inaction and Mis-action”, was launched as the UCCP-Cosmopolitan Church’s gift to the Jubilee celebration of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. The contributors and editors envision the book to break new grounds in forging partnerships with the church and faith-based organizations in the Philippines to address the country’s HIV epidemic.
The resource book takes off from the HIV Forum supported by the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines with the full backing of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines National Office last June 2013. Medical practitioners, NGO workers, church workers, missionaries, legislators, and advocates in the field of LGBT and HIV issues have gathered to support the launch.
“Behind this publication is the total recognition that the inter-related issues of prevention, treatment, and ultimately the stamping out of HIV are intricately complex… We all need to recognize that for this to work on the HIV/AIDS pandemic to be sustainable, we also need to address the many tentacles of injustice that define our relationships with people living with, or directly affected by, HIV and AIDS,” Rev. Dr. Jose Andres Sotto, senior pastor of the UCCP-Cosmopoltian Church, said.
UCCP- Cosmopolitan Church acknowledges that the discourse of HIV in the Philippines calls for the church to proactively and reflectively address the structural drivers of the epidemic – drivers that underscore the hesitance of most at-risk populations (MARPs) to access services that will keep them “negative.” Institutionalized stigma, prejudice and discrimination dissuade substantial MARPs from accessing HIV services.
“Entering a testing facility is not an option for the man who is agonizingly stared at while sitting in the lobby waiting for his test or overhearing his nurse tell another nurse that she suspect he’s gay and doesn’t want to test him. Nor is it an option for a sex worker to come to church where she feels judged condemned, and excluded by self-righteous people,” Sotto said.
The resource book thrusts the UCCP- Cosmopolitan Church into a ministry which is founded on the breaking down of social barriers that dehumanize people living with, and/or affected by HIV and AIDS. UCCP- Cosmopolitan Church recognizes that the church has been, for the most part, the main culprit in building up these walls among people.
“We hope that through this campaign, the church would end up subjecting itself to a painful process of self-examination and soul searching,” Sotto said.
“It is our hope that our local churches will be HIV competent to meet the challenges of the escalation of HIV in the Philippines. Our church is a downtown church at the heart of Manila and we wish to make a contribution to get to zero new HIV infections, zero stigma and discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. We hope to work together with other local churches to campaign and work together achieving the three goals,” Dr. Erlinda N. Senturias, book editor and INERELA+ vice chair, ended.
For book orders, visit UCCP – Cosmopolitan Church at 1368 Taft Avenue, Ermita, City of Manila; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call (+632) 5254495 or (+632) 5231309.