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Theologians open conversation on HIV prevention

10. February 2009

    A groundbreaking book that wrestles with the complex and sometimes controversial intersection of belief and HIV prevention is now available from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation comes out of a remarkable consultation held in early 2008 of 35 leading Christian theologians and practitioners, including people living with HIV, from five continents and many church traditions.  The book is an essential resource for church leaders, theologians, teachers and strategists who are committed to a positive, informed and compassionate engagement with HIV prevention.

    “This ‘conversation’ explored in a loving and enlightening way one of the most difficult challenges of the AIDS pandemic, that of prevention,” states Enda McDonagh, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology, St. Patrick’s College, Ireland.

    Prevention messages coming from organized religion have often been ambivalent, moralistic, stigmatizing, or divorced from the realities of people’s lives. By contrast, participants in the consultation and resulting publication sought to identify areas of common understanding by sharing, from diverse traditions, the moral, theological and ecclesiological challenges raised by HIV prevention. This ‘common ground’ forms the basis of Part One in the book. Part Two recognizes the need to maintain deeply held convictions and consists of essays by distinguished individuals from the consultation, among them Margaret A Farley, Yale University Divinity School and Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, co-founder of ANERELA+, who set out their own distinctive and challenging positions. Part Three proposes a range of practical measures available to churches, their leaders and their members.

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in recommending the publication, emphasizes, “Every church leader, pastor, preacher, theologian, should take the first step towards joining A global Theological Conversation by reading this groundbreaking new volume on HIV prevention. Then take the second step…begin your own theological reflection and engage others in the discourse of life.”
    As Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS states, “The more religious communities can openly and respectfully discuss the faith and realities that effective HIV prevention has to address, the more progress we can make in reducing the spread of HIV and envisioning a world without AIDS.”

    HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation, edited by Gillian Paterson, 168 pp., is available in English, French and Spanish. The book can be downloaded or single print copies can be ordered for free at: www.e-alliance.ch/en/s/hivaids/publications/theological-conversation/.

    For more information contact Sara Speicher, sspeicher@e-alliance.ch, +44 7821 860 723.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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