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Faith groups emphasize action before International AIDS Conference

22. July 2008

    Can religions do more in response to the AIDS pandemic? To address this question over 450 representatives of faith-based organizations responding to HIV and AIDS will gather in Mexico City, 31 July – 2 August, in advance of the XVII International AIDS Conference.

    Leading church, civil society, and government speakers will address the Ecumenical Pre-Conference including:

    • Dutch AIDS Ambassador Paul Bekker
    • Rev. Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
    • Msgr. Gustavo Rodriguez, President of the National Social Commission in Mexico of the Catholic Church
    • Mtro. Emilio Alvarez Icaza Longoria, President of the Commission on Human Rights of Mexico City
    • Kay Warren, Saddleback Church (USA)
    • Dr. Jacob Gayle, Ford Foundation
    • Rev. Patricia Sawo, African Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (ANERELA+)
    • Dr Purnima Mane, Deputy Executive Director, UNFPA
    • Sra. Beatríz Rebeca Jarero, Méson de la Misericordia Divina (Mexico)
      “Faith groups have taken a leadership role in many areas in the response to AIDS,” states Linda Hartke, coordinator of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, which has led the planning for the conference. “We hope that everyone participating here will be inspired, re-energized, and challenged to expand and strengthen our efforts.”

    Plenary sessions over the three days focus on key obstacles and opportunities to reaching the goal of universal access to prevention, care and treatment. They include leadership, prevention, violence, vulnerability of children and stigma and discrimination.

    The XVII International AIDS Conference, probably the largest conference on a single health issue, is the first to be held in Latin America. AIDS 2008 will bring thousands of participants from the academic, scientific, medical communities, business, government, faith and civil society communities together with positive people’s networks. Over 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV. The 2008 conference theme is Universal Action Now.

    Churches and church-related organizations in Mexico have formed a Christian Host Committee to support and facilitate the faith-based presence at AIDS 2008. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance provides overall coordination and support for faith-based participation through its secretariat and several international planning committees.

    Notes for Media

    Schedule and Speakers List for the Ecumenical Pre-Conference: The plenary schedule and full list of speakers can be downloaded at: http://www.e-alliance.ch/iac2008/resources/Plenary_Background_Paper_List_of_Plenary_Sessions.pdf
    Media are welcome to attend the Ecumenical Pre-Conference. Press should bring appropriate credentials, and inform the contacts below in advance of attendance.

    Extensive coverage, including photos, news, features, video and audio, of faith-based participation at the International AIDS Conference will be available beginning 31 July at http://iac.e-alliance.ch/ All material can be reprinted free of charge providing credit is given to the source.

    Sign up to receive a daily digest of the latest news and features, video and photos, and other media products by sending an email saying “subscribe IAC” to media@e-alliance.ch

    Webcast: All Ecumenical Pre-conference plenary sessions will be webcast by Kaiser Network at: http://www.kaisernetwork.org/healthcast/ecumenical/31jul08

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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