HIV Forum: Working Together Towards Ending Stigma, Shame, Denial, Discrimination, Inaction and Misaction

UCCP Cosmopolitan Church, June 3, 2013

Instances show that HIV is worsened by “the stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV,” said Rev. Phumzile Mabizela.

The HIV Forum was a gathering of faith-based organizations with HIV programs and various advocacy groups as well as individuals like Wango Gallago, a person living with HIV. The aim was to point out clearly the importance of working together to end Stigma, Shame, Denial, Discrimination, Inaction and Misaction, in short SSDMIM.

The said event was attended by 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), where also Dr. Erlinda N. Senturias, Chairperson of MAG, belongs to .

The focus relied on the role of the church in case of dealing with HIV, which until now was more on silencing or ignoring it. Rev. Canon Dr. Gideon B. Byamugisha, who was the first religious leader in Africa who went public about his HIV-positive status in 1992, pointed out the significance of discussing it within the church and outside. The same angle had Rev. Phumzile Mabizela, Executive Director of INERELA, who went for more openness to be able to respond to the needs of people infected with, or affected by HIV.

Another big issue was to show the necessity of education, the support through the family, friends and work which was clearly presented by Wango Gallogo through his “successful” story. When he went public with his HIV-positive status, he got support not only from his family and friends but also from the work, which is not the normal scenario. Instead, people experience stigmatization and discrimination.

The forum gathered the faith-based organizations to work together and unify efforts to help address HIV and to end Stigma, Shame, Denial, Discrimination, Inaction and Mis-action.