Church Observes World AIDS Day, With Children on Spotlight

Published 06 December 2017  |  
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On World AIDS Day 2017 on Dec. 1, the churches, government bodies and public groups at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva have discussed on how to improve access to testing and treatment for children and adolescents living with HIV, particularly by means of education.

The World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA) brought together representatives of faith-based organizations as well as public sector and inter-governmental organizations.

"The World Council of Churches engages in issues of HIV and AIDS through two ecumenical initiatives," said Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, deputy general secretary, WCC.

"But for many of us, we do not just engage in these issues because it is our job, but because of who we are, and where we come from. The challenges of HIV and AIDS are issues that touch and affect us personally," Phiri added.

The WCC's campaign "Leading by Example: Religious Leaders and HIV Testing" symbolically concluded on World AIDS Day 2017. The campaign witnessed over 1,000 religious leaders around the world publicly voice out to encourage HIV testing.

"While we will continue to mobilize religious leaders in promoting HIV testing, in the next few years we will be fast-tracking our efforts towards the rights and lives of children and adolescents living with HIV," said Francesca Merico, coordinator of the WCC-EAA HIV Campaign.

"What may sometimes sound quite technical is actually very simple," said Merico.

"There is a lack of access to testing for children. And what is more, there is a lack of appropriate, child-friendly medicines to treat HIV. This is why we have to mobilize all sectors to get children and adolescents to know their status, access medication, and stay on treatment. Because if you are HIV positive and you do not have access to testing and treatment, you will not survive," Merico added.

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