Many Americans living with HIV have received crucial support from faith-based providers, including HIV testing, counseling, and linkage to health care, as well as necessities like nutritious food and stable housing. There are also effective partnerships between public health programs and religious communities to improve the health of people living with HIV. Yet faith communities can sometimes be the source of stigma and hurt for those living with HIV.
Sunday, August 29, is the fifth annual National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NFHAAD), an observance that unites communities of faith with people living with HIV/AIDS, to support education, linkage to treatment and care, and to eliminate the stigma around HIV/AIDS.
The National Black Leadership Commission on Health and RAHMA are among several organizations that partnered to launch the first Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in 2017. Founded in 2021 by Khadijah Abdullah, RAHMA has addressed HIV and AIDS in faith communities through education, advocacy, and empowerment, with a focus on ending stigma. Since its inception, NFHAAD has reached over 200,000 people representing Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, and Baha’i and other faith traditions across the country, encouraging people to take a stand against stigma and raise awareness about HIV. Last year, NFHAAD officially became recognized as an Awareness Day on HIV.gov, which marks a significant milestone emphasizing the importance of raising awareness and ending stigma.
Recently, NFHAAD hosted an online Facebook event featuring a panel of faith leaders, medical and public health professionals, and community members for a conversation around the current state of COVID-19 and ways to stay healthy. Watch it here, and tune into NFHAAD’s Facebook page on August 29 for special programming, including the release of a short documentary film amplifying the voices of faith leaders, advocates, and people living with HIV in the South at 4 pm.
Help celebrate National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day this year by spreading the word among friends, family, and community: Faith communities are crucial to ending HIV stigma and discrimination, and to ending the epidemic.