In many countries around the world, faith-based organizations and networks deliver a significant portion of health care, including HIV/AIDS support and treatment, particularly to underserved populations in rural areas. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has worked in remote areas to strengthen these community health systems and local partners for many years. Much of this work was achieved through the CRS-led AIDSRelief consortium, which provided care and life-saving treatment to more than 700,000 people in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Amy Ellis, CRS’ health policy advisor, recently participated in a Caritas and UNAIDS-sponsored conference focused on the role of faith-based organizations (FBO) in the fight against HIV. “Faith-based organizations must continue to play a central role if we want to achieve new treatment targets for HIV,” she said. “The FBO network around the world has extensive reach and access to underserved populations, enabling them to provide high quality, holistic care to tens of thousands of people who otherwise might not receive the medical and social support they need.”
The conference, held in Rome from Feb. 25-26, was related to UNAIDS’ Treatment 2015 initiative which aims to reach at least 15 million people living with HIV with antiretroviral treatment by 2015. More than 100 participants represented diverse Christian faith traditions, UNAIDS, Vatican offices, governments, the medical and scientific community and the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.