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Pacific Churches address HIV/AIDS

24 March 2004

Pacific Churches address HIV/AIDS

"Churches equipped and willing to act" is not only the theme, but also the objective of a HIV/AIDS consultation to take place next week in Nadi.

The consultation, to be held from 30 March to 1 April at the Tanoa International Hotel, is an opportunity for Pacific churches to address the need for a common strategy and concerted action plan in the face of the growing impact of HIV/AIDS in the region.

Participants, who will include lay people as well as leaders from the church and community, will work towards the formation of an HIV/AIDS reference group. Through this group, the churches will be able to mobilize local opinion leaders and challenge the church structures to engage in the battle against HIV AIDS.

Keynote speakers Mr. Steven Vete of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Mr. Jone Vakalalabure of UNAIDS will address conference participants on the priority of HIV/AIDS in the Pacific and the challenges it poses to the region.

Presentations from the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) and the South Pacific Association of Theological Schools (SPATS) on their current work regarding HIV/AIDS will provide a regional ecumenical perspective on the issue, and the results of a regional survey on church involvement will be made available.

Participants will hear personal testimonies from persons living with HIV/AIDS and share their experiences in workshops and group discussions. Resources and expertise will also be provided to the churches from the Pacific Aids Foundation.

Worship will include a special performance by Ouranous (Heavenly) Sounds, a Seventh Day Adventist choir that deals with the epidemic first-hand through an HIV positive member.

Through a better understanding of the epidemic and its impact on the Pacific, churches will become better equipped to take the lead on HIV/AIDS related issues and work towards positive change.

ENDS


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