It has been 41 years since HIV/ AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus/ acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) was first discovered in 1981. Since that first discovery, there have been many advancements in detecting and treating HIV. These developments have improved overall life quality for many living with HIV, extending life expectancy, and three people have been cured. Previously, we did not believe a cure was possible.
However, despite these improvements, HIV is one of the most heavily stigmatized health topics. One of the most significant barriers to ending the HIV epidemic is stigma. Faith Communities can help our larger communities eliminate stigma around HIV. Faith communities have tremendous opportunities to be agents of compassion, healing, hope, and peace. We have the chance to connect wholeness and hope to the generational impact of health concerns, including HIV/ AIDS. This is sacred work that God joins us in. Faith communities can begin conversations of compassion while fostering shared vulnerability and a culture of mutuality and support for people living with HIV.
For 85 years, the North Carolina Council of Churches has been fighting racism and working towards a more justice-centered society. Today this continues as we work toward a more compassionate response to the HIV epidemic. This study guide will help your congregation faithfully wrestle with these issues.
-The Partners in Health and Wholeness Team