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Strengthening Religious Leadership in Response to HIV

Religious leaders can play a transformative role in the HIV response by using their influence, authority, and spiritual insight in efforts to overcome stigma and discrimination, advocate for sustainable funding, and promote HIV prevention, treatment care and support.

2010 High Level Summit

In March 2010, over 40 high level religious leaders from Baha’í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh religions met together with the Executive Directors of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the AIDS Ambassadors of The Netherlands and Sweden, leaders and representatives of networks of people living with HIV and other organisations active in the response to HIV.


Summit participants affirmed in their concluding statement the “renewed sense of urgency” to prioritize and strengthen the response to HIV. Such response includes “holistic prevention” in addition to reaching universal access to treatment, care and support. The statement called for the “universal respect for the human rights of all people living with and affected by and at risk of HIV infection” and the “respect for the dignity of every human being”. Leaders also called for “a massive social mobilization” to support services for women to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother to child.


In addition religious leaders drafted and personally signed a pledge to commit themselves to strengthened efforts to respond to HIV. The pledge includes “deepening meaningful engagement with people living with HIV” and “acting decisively to protect human rights within my faith community; through collaboration among other religious leaders of different faiths; and by influencing local, national, regional and global decision-making processes on HIV.” Signers committed to reporting to each other every 18 months how they are fulfilling the commitment.


Background and documents on the Summit of High Level Religious Leaders in the Response to HIV

Summit follow up

As the lead international organizer for the March 2010 Summit, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is facilitating the follow up to the Summit through a multifaith working group. Its major areas of work include the promotion of the personal commitment and facilitating the reporting on the commitment, developing frameworks for dialogue between networks of people living with HIV and religious leaders, and identifying and facilitating opportunities for advocacy by religious leaders at national and international levels.

Religious leaders review fulfilment of the personal commitment, “Together We Must Do More”

In November 2011, leaders from five world religions gathered in Toronto, Canada, to review the report compiling the actions and reflections of religious leaders who have signed the personal commitment and to make recommendations to strengthen religious leadership in the response to HIV.



Press release: Religious leaders seek more urgent action on HIV

Report on the fulfilment of the personal commitment PDF (EN)

Points of Agreement from the Review Meeting PDF (EN)


Powerpoint Presentations from the Meeting

State of the Response to HIV – Sally Smith, UNAIDS (EN)

UNFPA’s Work with FBOs – Dawn Minnott, UNFPA (EN)

Report on fulfilment of the personal commitment – Sara Speicher, EAA (EN)

Developing models for dialogue – Chris Mallouris, consultant (EN)

Case study of religious leaders advancing the aims of the Summit (Indonesia) – Anggia Ermarini, INTERNA (EN)