Read a Q&A with the LWF's Sheila Shyamprasad by Elizabeth Hunter.
Seventy Lutherans were among more than 500 faith-based representatives at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Aug. 13-18. The group also attended ecumenical and interfaith preconferences before joining more than 24,000 delegates at the world’s largest conference on a single health issue.
Under the theme “Faith in Action: Keeping the Promise,” the preconferences offered 40 workshops on topics ranging from ending stigma and discrimination toward people living with HIV to advocacy, new prevention messages and theology.
At the preconferences and the conference itself, faith-based participants focused on central challenges to the churches’ response to HIV/AIDS, including addressing prevention and gender. While most people of faith agreed on the importance of promoting healthy sexual behavior, including abstinence and fidelity, there remained a division on whether the use of condoms constitutes moral behavior and on the definition of responsible sexual behavior.
Kenyan Lutheran Musimbi Kanyoro, general secretary of the World YWCA, told the larger conference: “The imperatives of an ethical human society demand that we address AIDS with minds open to new standards of values. Are these not the defining moments for the ethics of morality versus mortality? The millions of lives lost cannot be ignored.”
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