Religious Leaders Pledge for Equality for People Living with HIV (PLHIV)

“Faith in Action” concluded with a firm assurance to remove stigma & discrimination against HIV/AIDS

Online PR News – 29-September-2010 – – Bangalore, Sept. 28, 2010: Acknowledging the significant influence that faith-based groups have on general public, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living Foundation, along with high-level religious leaders from all faiths, who attended the two-day interfaith summit on HIV & AIDS, jointly announced a ‘declaration’ to remove stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. The summit concluded with a pledge to undertake the responsibility of working tirelessly to remove all forms of roadblocks, isolation and marginalization of people living with and affected by HIV.
Munisri Jinesh Kumarji, Sri Jain Shvetambar Terapanth Sabha, Avtar Singh Makkar , Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee, Golden Temple, Amritsar, Ervad Noshir Dadrawala, Center of Advancement of Philanthrophy, Dryuhannon Mar Dios Corus, Metropolitan of Chennai, Syed Ghulam Kibria Dastagir, President, Anjuman Syed Zadjan, Ajmer Dargah Sharif, Swami Dharmavallabh Das, Swami Narayan Gurukul, His Holiness Phrakhrupipipsutatorn, AIMA, Thailand and Param Poojya Asaram Bapu signed the declaration and advocated for an AIDS free India.
Leaders across faith groups pledged to utilize their sacred scriptures and traditions to actively promote these messages and talk openly about key issues on HIV and AIDS during religious discourses in their communities. They also promised to work in partnership with organizations and networks of people living with HIV, the government, NGOs and other partners to enable a stigma-free environment to access HIV services in healthcare settings and defend their fundamental freedoms and human rights.
A) Mobilize human resources from the faith communities to complement the efforts of the government to ensure that people from all communities can access services on HIV prevention, care and treatment.
B) Believe that every child has a right to be born without HIV- and every mother to treatment for her own HIV and other health needs. Therefore, pledge to mobilize communities to support all pregnant women to access formal healthcare and HIV testing services in recognition of the fact that HIV positive mothers can have children free from HIV- and can live for many years as healthy mothers, raising their children to adulthood.
C) Support promotion of voluntary testing in an environment which has confidentiality, informed consent and counselling and will work to develop these services in our communities, medical and faith institutions
D) Leaders to use the platform to actively promote these messages and talk openly about key issues on HIV during our religious discourses in our communities and among our peers.
E) Wholeheartedly endorse the importance of an Interfaith Coalition with the National Secretariat to coordinate the interfaith response to HIV.
“The declaration is the outcome of a promising response of religious leaders across faith and our partners who supported us in our initiative. Forums like these not only break the inter-cultural barriers but also strengthen the initiative taken to eradicate stigmas like HIV from the society. It is encouraging to be a part of the drive to combat HIV and standing for a cause. I am hopeful of more such platforms inviting participation from diversified fraternities,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
The summit witnessed the participation from over 300 religious leaders besides Prof. Charles Gilks, Country Coordinator UNAIDS India; Dr. Ennapadam S. Krishnamoorthy, APAC-VHS, USAID, Karin Hulshof and UNICEF India Representative, Mr R R Jannu, PD, KSAPS. A workshop attended for and by the religious leaders on the approach to remove stigma and discrimination reiterated their commitment to create a favorable environment for the HIV positive people.
Effective messages by HIV positive people including Reverend living with HIV- J. P. Heath, who is also the Founder Member and Acting Executive Director of INERELA +, motivated the religious leaders to commit themselves fully to support the national HIV response and bring the resources of the faith communities behind the common goal of halting and reversing the HIV epidemic.