By Aina Sheetheni, LWF delegate to the 19th International AIDS Conference
The tool used to smash HIV and AIDS at the Interfaith Pre-Conference on HIV was faith: believing that, if we have faith, we can end HIV and AIDS and change the world.
With faith we can promote the health of the nation, through faith we can keep the dignity of the people and by faith we can do justice toward each other.
All people were invited to take part in the fight against HIV and AIDS by educating anybody who needs information. We have to discuss HIV openly and without fear, even with children.
It was discovered that in the world there are some companies against generic ARV (antiretroviral drugs) . They keep their patents on their patented drugs so that they can get the most profit from them.
It was my pleasure when the people of faith took action together to tell these companies to agree with the world that generic ARV are needed and they should put their drugs in the Medicines Patent Pool so they are accessible for all. They tweeted to those organizations saying, “People of faith say global access now! Put your HIV meds in the pool!”
It was a fight that anyone can fight. If somebody wants to take part in this fight, just tweet: “Put yr # HIV meds in the pool now! @jnjcomm, @vivus, @boehringer, @GSK and @pfizer-news”. If there are other companies known to be against generic ARV, please tweet them the same message.
The action reminded me of some charismatic churches in Namibia that I know of that preach openly that ARV are not helping, that only prayer can heal and cure. They tell people to throw away their ARV and come to prayers for cure.
I am open to be part of the activities of my church that will challenge such dangerous approaches to treatment and cure. We have to do like what the people of faith have done and call out loudly: “Action, now!”
Let us take action together and turn the tide for girls, women and the rest of the vulnerable. Someday, HIV and AIDS will be part of history.
Rev. Aina Sheetheni pastored Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia congregations from 2004 to 2010, engaging HIV realities. She lost her brothers to AIDS-related illnesses in 2004. She is studying to be a counselor and wants with this work to try to give hope to people living with HIV and children orphaned by AIDS.
The ELCA and the LWF have a diverse youth delegation attending the AIDS conference this week. Stay tuned for more.