Resolution Number: A152

Subject: HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination

Moved By: Peter Elliott, from the Diocese of New Westminster

Seconded By: Gordon Yarde, from the Diocese of Saskatoon

Note: The mover and the seconder must be members of the General Synod and be present in the House when the resolution is before the synod for debate.

BE IT RESOLVED:

That this General Synod:

  1. Announce that the Church stands with people living with AIDS and urges its members to work towards the eradication of stigma and discrimination in our church and society.
  2. Ask the PWRDF, in collaboration with the EcoJustice and Partners in Mission Committees to develop a comprehensive strategy, over the next triennium, to engage the Anglican Church of Canada in fighting the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, and encourage the dioceses and parishes to get involved and develop local programs and other responses that are inclusive and engage in fight for de-stigmatization of HIV positive people.
  3. To ask the Council of General Synod to express the Anglican Church of Canada’s solidarity with bishops, clergy and lay people, especially in Africa, who are showing leadership in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic by reaching out in partnership to people living with AIDS, not as the objects of charity, but as equal partners.



EXPLANATORY NOTE/BACKGROUND INFORMATION:


Secular organizations such as the United Nations are taking purposeful steps to ensure that documents such as the “United Nations Declaration of Human Rights’ and various other documents signed by UN member states ensure that people with HIV/AIDS have the same rights as other citizens of the country they live in. In a faith-based setting, the approach must transcend a secular one and the church can serve as an example of the path the secular world should follow.

The UNGASS Declaration of Commitment notes that “stigma, silence, discrimination and denial, as well as lack of confidentiality, undermine prevention, care and treatment efforts and increase the impact of the epidemic on individuals, families and communities and nations and must also be addressed”. 1

Stigma reinforces social norms by defining some members of the community as unacceptable. In its statement on September 15 to September 19 of 1986 the WCC Executive Committee made the following declaration: “To confess that churches as institutions have been slow to speak and to act, - that many Christians have been quick to judge and condemn many of the people who have fallen prey to the disease; and that through their silence, many churches share responsibility for the fear that has swept our world more quickly than the virus itself”2

The stigmatized person is often held responsible for real or imagined ills that afflict the community. Exclusion, victimization and scapegoating are some of the issues that deeply affect the lives of people living with AIDS, often condemning people to a social death that has a similar impact as the physical death that awaits them. Many churches have greeted HIV/AIDS with moral denunciation and judgment. The pandemic of HIV/AIDS has pushed the churches to deal with its two faces: a) the caring, loving and compassionate, and b) the judgmental, moralistic and stigmatizing.

A group of African church leaders met in Nairobi in November 2001. They reached the following conclusion: “The most powerful contribution we can make to combating HIV transmission is the eradication of stigma and discrimination”.3

According to Health Canada, in 2003 there were 56,000 Canadians living with AIDS and 76,000 are unaware of their infection. While less than three percent of the Canadian population is Aboriginal, the proportion of AIDS cases attributed to Aboriginal persons has increased from one percent before 1990 to 15 percent in 1999. While it is important to address the high rates of HIV/AIDS in the Aboriginal population is it also critical to guard against the impact of further marginalization of First Nations peoples from the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS.

This resolution builds on previous actions of the General Synod, the National Executive Council and the Anglican Consultative Council, remembering the General Synod Resolution Act (#60) of June 1986, the General Synod Resolution Act (#114) of June 1998, the National Executive Council Resolution 42-10-87 of October 1987, and the Anglican Consultative Council-7/ 1987 April-May, Resolution 26

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1 Artice 13 Declaration of Commitment on HIV AIDS Adopted June 2001

2 "AIDS and the Churches as a Healing Community" - excerpts from the statement from WCC Executive Committee, 15-19 September 1986

3 "Curch, AIDS & Stigma" Gillian Patterson, Discussion Paper 2002

 

Source: PWRDF Partners in Mission Committee_
EcoJustice Committee
  (name of committee, diocese, etc.)
Submitted by: