Lyn is involved in HIV Advocacy with a specific focus on South Africa, through the World Council of Churches - Ecumenical Advocacy Campaign.
We would like to invite churches, schools, and faith leaders across South Africa to be part of this initiative. As people of faith, we are compelled to speak out against injustice and to make a difference in society. We will continue to add information to this page, and invite your input and participation. If you are interested in being part of this contact Lyn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your church/school/organisation can help children and young people with HIV. Together with WCC – EAA, we are involved in a three-month advocacy campaign focusing on South Africa.
UNAIDS estimates that around 1.8 million children younger than 15 are living with HIV in the world.
We know that these children can live a long and healthy life.
It is however essential that they are diagnosed early and that they have medication and Antiretroviral Treatment (ART for the rest of their lives. Sadly, we also know that more than half of children who are born with HIV worldwide will die before their second birthday if they do not receive treatment.
Yet, less than half the children with HIV worldwide received ART in 2017.
Countries worldwide are aiming for the 90/90/90 HIV target - this means that 90% of people living with HIV know their status, that 90% of those who are positive are on antiretroviral therapy, and that 90% of those on treatment’s virus is ‘undetectable’ (this is a sign of successful treatment, and means that the virus is unlikely to be transmitted to others).
South Africa has had good results in reducing new infections in babies and adults (even though there is still concern in some age groups). We are largely also quite successful in achieving the 90/90/90 targets. In 2016, 86% of people with HIV knew their status, 65% of these were on ARVs, and 81% on treatment attained viral suppression.
This success however hides a less rosy picture for children and adolescents, especially for girls.
In South Africa there were 320,000 children living with HIV in 2016, of which 12,000 were newly infected in the year, and 9300 children died from AIDS-related conditions.
While more than 95% of HIV-positive pregnant mothers received treatment in 2016 (this protects their babies from infection and ensure that they stay healthy), only 55% of children living with HIV received ARV treatment. Although the statistics might have strange slightly from then, this means that around 150,000 children do not receive the medicine they desperately need.
One of the most important reasons for this is that children are not diagnosed soon enough, partly because the test in young children is more complex and more difficult to access.
There is also reason for concern about adolescents.
In 2016 there were 370,000 adolescents (aged 10 to 19) living with HIV in South Africa, of which 150 000 new infections took place in that year alone. Of these new infections, 41,000 took place in young girls. There were also 6 200 deaths due to AIDS-related conditions.
The World Council of Churches - Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA) invites faith communities worldwide to be part of an advocacy campaign to address the challenges of HIV diagnosis and treatment in children. This campaign will have a specific intensive focus in South Africa from October to December 2018.
Children and young people in schools and churches are invited to be part of an international letter-writing campaign asking for greater access to medication and testing for children. Guidelines are provided to write letter to a few target groups including companies manufacturing medicine and diagnostic equipment, ministers of health, education and finance, etc.
In this way children can themselves become a voice to increase access to treatment and diagnostics for children and young people.
Although this is an ongoing project we would like to have have the letters by 20 November 2018 so that we can courier them to Geneva for a event on 1 December.
You can also write a letter here.
We provide electronic copies of the tools, but they are also available in hardcopy on request from Lyn. Please request copies by email.
- Booklet: Faith communities taking action with children and youth living with HIV (pdf, 6.6 MB)
- Draft Letters from Booklet, Adapted for SA Context. (pdf)
People of faith cannot remain indifferent to the 500 children who are newly infected with HIV each day and to the 300 children who die of AIDS-related causes daily. We cannot remain silent knowing that many adolescents do not receive proper information about HIV and AIDS and knowing that all these infections and deaths are entirely avoidable!
To change this situation, the WCC-EAA is mobilizing faith leaders, representatives of faith-based organizations and faith-based media representatives to speak out for and with children and adolescents living with HIV and HIV/TB co-infection. Lyn is acting as a consultunt for the South African campaign
The faith contribution to the Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free Framework
This initiative is one of the faith contributions to the Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free Framework launched by UNAIDS and PEPFAR in 2016.
We want children to be born free from HIV; children and adolescents to remain free from HIV; and children who are HIV positive to have access to timely testing and quality treatment.
Be a Champion for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV
Champions will inspire political change and inform their faith communities about children and adolescents’ issues related to HIV.
We count on your powerful voices as religious leaders to make and shape national policies, call for justice, protect the rights of children and adolescents, address stigma and discrimination, and mobilize people to take up testing, prevention, treatment and care.
We count on journalists and editors to inform the public about children, adolescents and HIV and raise the level of the debate.
Together, champions will be powerful agents for action to make sure that 1.6 million children and 1.2 million adolescents living with HIV will be provided with treatment by the end of 2018 – as agreed by all United Nations Member States in the Political Declaration 2016 UN HIV High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS.
We are particularly inviting South African faith leaders to be part of this campaign
In many cases the faith voice HIV has become silent. In the country with the largest number of people living with HIV, we need to reinvigorate the faith response.
We would like to invite faith leaders to sign on as champions for children and adolescents living with HIV. We would like to invite you to raise your voice.
What we expect from Champions
Champions for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV are asked to support at least one of the following actions:
- Sign the WCC-EAA Call to Action “Act now for children and adolescents living with HIV” and promote it. (Please also let Lyn know if you have done so)
- Share information on children, adolescents and HIV within your faith community, including through sermons. Get inspired by the Khutbah and Sermon Guides on children and HIV for Religious Leaders from IMA Health World, INERELA+ Kenya and AIDSFree
- Advocate with key decision makers to address paediatric AIDS bottlenecks (government officials; pharmaceutical and generic companies; diagnostic companies, donors) at global level and in your country; and set up meetings with them!
- Issue a video message on paediatric AIDS testing and treatment for adolescents
- Organize events to raise awareness about children, adolescents and HIV for instance during occasions such as: Universal TB Day (24 March); Universal Health Day (7 April); Universal Children Day (20 November); Universal Human Rights Day (10 December); World AIDS Day (1 December).
- Write articles, open editorials for your local or national newspapers, your website, or make a contribution to the WCC Pilgrimage blog and share them with us!
- Work with radio stations and media outlets, as well as on social media to share all that you do. The WCC-EAA will be honoured to highlight your advocacy actions on the Live the Promise Campaign Facebook page, twitter feed and on the WCC Pilgrimage blog!
We aim to have at least two events in South Africa before the end of November 2018 to equip champions and motivate them for the task. These events will be in Johannesburg and in KZN. Please contact me if you are interested or have any other suggestions. The invitation to these events are available below
Randburg - 30 November 2018
Register for these events here.
To become one of the South African Champion’s for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV, please contact Lyn van Rooyen email@example.com
Following on the very stimulating dialogues in 2017, dialogue sessions will be held between church leaders and young people in at least two geographic areas. This will create opportunities for young people to share their needs around HIV knowledge and services with faith leaders. If you are interested in being part of a dialogue (presently planned for Gauteng and KZN), please contact Lyn.
Register for these events here.
The AIDS epidemic is at a critical point. A remarkable, decades-long global effort has given us the capability to end AIDS as a public health threat. However, the global political will to end AIDS is weakening, raising the risk of a major resurgence of the epidemic in the 2020s, with tens of millions of lives at stake.
The Common Voice Initiative will reduce the risk through advocacy and action by leaders and followers of a broad range of religious traditions. We will organize, support, and promote activities that are strongest and most effective when done by religious groups and leaders working collectively.
Our first project is an advocacy video based on the use of the Common Voice pledge in diverse worship settings around the world, essentially a global responsive reading. If your local religious community would like to participate, please click on the button below.