Creating Nurturing Communities of Care with People Living with HIV and AIDS: A Policy Statement on HIV and AIDS

If there is one person living with HIV/AIDS, that is one person too many. The sad reality is that as of 2009, USAIDS estimates the population of people living with HIV-AIDS in the Philippines at 8,700. The Department of Health reported in January 2011 a 38% increase in the number of HIV positive cases. This is the highest number of cases reported in a month since 1984. That is far too many.

HIV and AIDS are not a curse. The first is caused by a virus like tuberculosis is caused by bacteria. The other is equally a serious condition gravely affecting the body’s immune system. None can be more compelling for a sick person than the desire to be healed.

People Living with HIV-AIDS are like lepers of olden times who suffered from marginalization, stigmatization and alienation. These people and their families are pushed to the margins often misunderstood and deprived of opportunities for work and health services affecting their economic plights and make them even more vulnerable. To be one living with aids or their family members is very dehumanizing. Equally dehumanizing is for communities of faith failure to grasp the issue of HIV-AIDS. For we are alienated from ourselves and we lose that compassion to be caring for the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters who are created in the image of God.

Our Theological Orientation

At the heart of NCCP’s self-understanding is its faithfulness to Jesus who said they who want to be great must serve. Service or diakonia is the hallmark of the church. Service is extended not only to our own members but especially to others. “Others” does not just refer to non-members. “Others” refers to those to whom that service is most needed – those who are denied opportunities to live abundant lives, those who are isolated by their families, friends and even by their own members and pastors/priests, regardless of who they are. The NCCP’s self-understanding also seeks to be consistent with the definition of Paul of what churches are – communities built upon “the foundation of the apostles and prophets” and Jesus being the chief cornerstone, in that order. Apostles teach the essentiality of service and prophets call us all, especially those powers and principalities, to repentance and to love peace and justice. Any demeaning or diminution of human life is always a violation of human rights and should be exposed and denounced.

Our loving service compels us to understand and know what these are in order to seek out the People Living with HIV/AIDS so that not one of them is lost. They too are people created in the image of God.

Solidarity

In Solidarity, NCCP and its member churches through its pastoral and advocacy work will endeavor to develop programs that will provide support or respond to the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Support through visitations, fellowship, counseling and similar programs.
  • Provide full and active participation in the life of the congregation in the nurture of every member as well as in the outreach program to the community.
  • Observance of World AIDS day every December 1 and AIDS Sunday on the nearest Sunday following and International AIDS Candle Light Memorial every 3rd Sunday of May.
  • Develop curriculum and materials on sexuality, HIV-AIDS and Spirituality based on scientific studies with theological basis to be adopted in Bible Studies, Sunday Schools, liturgy, sermons and fora in churches and church related institutions and organizations.
  • Equip students, teachers, personnel and administrators of church owned or related institutions with the knowledge, attitudes and skills on the prevention of the spread of HIV-AIDS, treatment and care of the persons living with HIV-AIDS as a healing and reconciling community.
  • Use Multi-media to disseminate information to reach the greater populace especially those who are vulnerable in the community regarding the prevention of the spread of HIV-AIDS, treatment and care of the persons living with HIV-AIDS.
  • Conduct regular activities on the prevention of the spread of HIV-AIDS, treatment and care of the persons living with HIV-AIDS within and outside the church.
  • Support people living with aids with their rights to employment, appropriate medical care, full participation in public education and in the Church.
  • Strengthen partnership with NGOs and other sectors with programs on the HIV-AIDS prevention for exchange of resources and joint initiatives.
  • Work towards the elimination of marginalization and stigmatization of persons living with HIV-AIDS.

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This policy statement was unanimously approved by the delegates of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines 23rd Convention held at Philippine Rice Research Institute in Batac, Ilocos Norte on November 24, 2011.