AIDS United hosted a webinar for National Faith and HIV Awareness Day on Aug. 27. To begin that webinar, Jesse Milan, AIDS United’s president and CEO, offered some opening remarks. Here is an excerpt from those opening remarks.
I’m so excited that we brought together a community of members from around the country and from across denominations and across faiths to talk about how people of faith have been and continue to be a prophetic voice for what is right. And especially for dealing with what is right right now, as we’re handling the intersecting social justice issues that HIV represents.
The role of the faith community and the church is also as a comforter and as an anchor for those who are disenfranchised, for people who are sick, for people who are dying. Faith communities and faith institutions globally have played important roles in HIV prevention, care and support, from orphans to the dying.
And we have seen that more than 170,000 people in this country have died from COVID-19. We have seen the deadly impacts of racism and white supremacy time and time again, most recently in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And we still have people dying from AIDS. We still have people being diagnosed with HIV; we have new transmission still occurring. And where do people go for spiritual guidance, for pastoral care, or for comfort and wholeness so that they can have a community support them through all these challenges.
All of us on this call and within the broader faith community have a role to play in that.
The faith community can use the lessons we’ve learned from our nearly 40 years of experience of HIV to deal with this new environment that COVID-19 creates. We’ve seen churches hold meetings and open their parish halls to HIV service organizations, to provide education testing and community support. And in this virtual world, our resilience looks a little different, but it is still very vital.
Watch the entire webinar now.