Ugandan HIV+ clergyman to lead SAVE lives campaign in Malawi

Influential Ugandan church leader Reverend Cannon Gideon Byamugisha will be in Malawi in to drum up the campaign on the Global Race to save lives from HIV and AIDS  in October.

He is the first African religious leader to announce he is HIV positive.

Byamugisha  lives with his wife and three HIV negative children.

Malawi’s prevalence rate of around 10.5% which has dropped from around 16%, and the fact that Malawi has a Sigma Index, places the country a suitable host for the international event, which organisers say will have President Mrs. Joyce Banda as guest of honour.

Canon Gideon Byamugisha. Photograph: Christian Aid

“We would like to announce the up-coming Global Race to SAVE Lives (GRSL) from HIV and AIDS international conference which will take place from 23rd to 26th October 2012,” says the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association (MIAA), which is bringing in the iconic clergyman to Malawi alongside the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV and AIDS (MANERELA+).

Reverend Canon Gideon Byamugisha,  the renowned HIV/AIDS advocate and Christian AIDS Goodwill Ambassador, was born 1959 is a priest in Uganda with a parish outside of Kampala. In 1992, he became the first religious leader in Africa to publicly announce that he was HIV positive.

He will, among many things, accompany a group of Malawian clergy during a visit to President Mrs. Banda where he will appeal for stronger government support in the areas of health – in particular HIV and AIDS.

The preacher will talk on the evils of and the need to reduce SSDDIM (Stigma, Shame, Denial, Discrimination, Inaction and Mis-action) and in support for the encouragement and promotion of Pro-SAVE interventions.

In 2009, Byamugisha received the 26th annual Niwano Peace Prize “in recognition of his work to uphold the dignity and human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS” and co-founded the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Personally Affected HIV and Aids (ANERELA+) in February 2002, starting in 2006 started a shelter for orphans of AIDS victims.

His ANERELA is advocating a new approach to the prevention of HIV/AIDS known as SAVE. SAVE stands for S (safe practices that include abstinence, routine testing, be faithful, and condom use; A (Access to available treatment and nutrition); V (Voluntary routine testing); and E (Empowerment of individuals, families, communities, and societies to be able to deal with all human epidemics including HIV and AIDS.

Faith communities, congregations and their leaders are a significant presence in the spiritual, social, political and economic lives of the individuals, families, communities and nations most vulnerable to HIV related infections, illnesses and deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond, says MIAA, which called for abstracts on the theme and event that will lead to successful submitters being granted scholarships by the National AIDS Commission (NAC), an integral partner in the campaign.

The conference will take place at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in the capital city, Lilongwe and is themed ‘Towards the three zeros: “Zero New HIV infections, Zero HIV related
Deaths and Zero stigma and discrimination”.

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