Faith Communities and HIV/AIDS

Faith Communities Project Program Description

The Faith Communities Project was developed in recognition of the significant role faith communities play in HIV/AIDS prevention and support/care efforts. The goal of the Faith Communities Project is to advance HIV prevention efforts in communities that are hardest-hit by the HIV epidemic through information sharing, collaboration and partnerships between communities of faith and community-based organizations.

Since early in the HIV epidemic, the AIDS Institute recognized the importance of involving diverse sectors of communities in HIV/AIDS prevention and care efforts. Because prevention programs must be broad-based, faith settings are ideal for the implementation of HIV programs serving hard-to-reach populations.

Historically, the AIDS Institute has contracted with various faith-based agencies to meet the HIV prevention needs of individuals, families, and communities reflecting various racial/ethnic groups, cultures, and languages. By 2001, there were 13 faith-based organizations receiving grant funding to provide HIV prevention interventions and client services.

In November of 2001, the AIDS Institute hosted a two-day statewide forum, "Meeting on Common Ground: The Role of Faith Based Communities in HIV/AIDS," in New York City. The forum brought together representatives of faith communities serving racial/ethnic minorities; HIV/AIDS service providers and volunteers; people living with HIV/AIDS; and representatives from non-AIDS specific organizations. Participants identified specific regional needs and committees were developed to address issues and initiate planning. Regional committees developed action plans that indicate needs and specify specific tasks to be completed.

Since then, regional committees have met, designed and implemented activities that directly relate to meeting needs described in the action plans. Activities implemented include: HIV awareness events; capacity-building workshops; presentations to faith leaders, community representatives, and local community forums; open dialogues; clergy roundtable discussions; and meetings to network and continue to support partnerships.

In April of 2008, in collaboration with the Office of Minority Health Resources Center of the United State Department of Health and Human Services, the AIDS Institute convened faith leaders, community based organizations and persons impacted by HIV/AIDS for the second statewide faith forum entitled: "Responding to the Call: Faith Communities' Response to HIV/AIDS" in Poughkeepsie. The forum recognized faith communities’ response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic and engaged faith leaders in dialogue on issues that continue to challenge HIV prevention and health care efforts, such as the spirit of sexuality and stigma and discrimination.

The Faith Communities Project continues, with the guidance of community faith representatives, to foster regional partnerships, support information sharing, and identify resources to further HIV prevention and health care efforts in New York State. For more information about the FCP, please contact:

Carol Tyrell
Faith Communities Project Coordinator
Division of HIV Prevention
(518) 473-2300