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Faith leaders set out roadmap to increase treatment access
A consultation meeting, initiated by UNAIDS and Caritas Internationalis, took place this week in Rome to develop a roadmap to increase the faith-based community’s contribution to scaling up access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. Faith-based organisations (FBOs) and churches are major contributors to the HIV and AIDS response around the world, with up to 50 percent of static and community HIV services being provided by these groups in certain countries.
Stakeholders representing the Christian faith, the United Nations, the Vatican, governments, donors, and the medical and scientific communities, gathered in Rome to agree their commitment to act on increasing HIV service access and on ensuring the ‘dignity of the person’. The meeting represented a unique opportunity to recognise the significant contribution that faith communities have made in these areas and to increase collaboration between them and international organisations. The need for greater research into the results of faith-based HIV treatment programmes and to improve the evidence-base of their work more widely was also recognised.
UNAIDS have committed to facilitate dialogue at country level on the role of FBOs in the HIV response to increase recognition of their contribution. UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director of Programme, Luiz Loures, commented “We are entering a new phase where we can see the beginning of the end of AIDS. The faith communities have the scale, and the means to move us forward.”