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Overcoming Stigma and Discrimination

People find it difficult to begin discussing HIV and AIDS, especially, it seems, in the faith community, where talk of sex and drugs carries immediate social judgment. Yet the silence, and the stigma and discrimination such silence allows to flourish, hinders people with HIV from seeking the help and support they need, and crushes efforts to educate communities to prevent the spread of the disease.

But around the world, people of faith are listening, learning and working creatively to overcome stigma and discrimination. There are some simple steps you can take to make a difference.  Join us in these efforts!

Resources to help you

Some amazing and easy to use resources are available to assist you in your church, school, hospital and community group in beginning to tackle HIV-related stigma. Whether you need to start with basic facts, theological resources, toolkits, worship materials, or lesson plans, you can find them here.

Signs of Hope - Steps for Change: a CD-ROM collection of resources which includes award winning posters and multi-lingual HIV and AIDS-related resources.

Next Steps: For positive change in attitudes that cause HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination (in English, French and Spanish): an additional resource to support churches and community groups in continuing the dialogue about HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. Order form.

Combating Stigma and Discrimination: a collection of multi-faith resources coming out of the 2004 International AIDS Conference in Bangkok. Content and order form.

AIDS Related Stigma – Thinking Outside the Box: The Theological Challenge PDF (EN, FR, ES, PT) : a discussion paper by Gillian Paterson on some of the challenges Christians in particular encounter in relation to HIV and AIDS.

Raise awareness in your church and community of HIV-related stigma and discrimination by setting up the game on HIV-related travel restrictions, "Around the World with HIV".


Search for more resources in the Resource Library.

Using art to make a difference

Seeking a way through the fear and silence at the grassroots level, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance designed a Global Poster Competition against HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. Through the competition, local groups were encouraged to discuss basic facts and attitudes towards HIV and AIDS and then create posters with messages of hope and compassion.

The Poster Competition exceeded expectations, with over 430 churches and community groups in 32 countries participating. More than 2,300 posters were created, and 80 displayed in an exhibition also contained on the CD-ROM, Signs of Hope.

Using the high quality posters on the CD-ROM, you can print compelling images for your church or office, and you will have everything you need to stage your own exhibition - as a tool for learning, on a special day like World AIDS Day, at a meeting or Assembly, or in a special place like a government building, museum, church, clinic, or school. Planning your own exhibit is easy with these tips and resources.

With the resources on this site, you can lead simple study sessions, carry out a local or even national poster competition, use images for reports or Sunday bulletins, or stage an interactive exhibit of award winning posters from around the world.

Addressing the criminalization of people living with HIV

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is concerned about the marginalization of people who are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection and about laws and policies that may undermine efforts to scale-up HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. As people of faith, we uphold the inherent value, life and dignity of all people. To facilitate dialogue on these issues, particularly in relation to recent developments in Malawi and Uganda, we are gathering statements made by faith-based organizations and faith leaders on our website.

Please send us any statements that you know of and wish for us to include in the following list by emailing rfoley (at) e-alliance.ch.

So far, the EAA has compiled the following statements:

From the Holy See speaking at the UN in December 2008 and December 2009 

From the Christian AIDS Bureau in South Africa in December 2009

From Anglican Bishops of Southern Africa in February 2010 and in May 2010


From a group of faith leaders in the US in May 2010