Promoting Commitment and Action

By promoting the religious leaders’ personal commitment, you can raise awareness of the need and potential impact for people living with or affected by HIV if religious leaders and communities increase their calls for the respect for human dignity and the value of human life.

You can make the personal commitment a central part of a meeting and ask participants to sign. Or you can approach religious leaders individually to explain the pledge. For some, signing a personal pledge is not part of their tradition or culture, but they could perhaps suggest ways they can indicate their commitment, through their own statement or making their words and actions related to HIV and AIDS more visible.

Because of the vast differences in traditions, there is no set definition for a religious leader. If they consider themselves religious leaders, they can sign.

Tools and Tips for Promoting the Personal Commitment

If you are planning a meeting or conference to address the religious response to HIV and AIDS and promote the personal commitment, consider these elements:

  1. Share information about HIV and AIDS. Some leaders are very knowledgeable about the facts and current key issues around HIV and AIDS, but for many, the pandemic has not been a high priority. You should make sure that everyone has basic facts and understanding, either as background information before the meeting and/or part of the opening sessions. UNAIDS has many fact sheets and articles that you can use, such as Outlook.
  2. Leadership of people living with HIV. In the planning and implementation of your meeting, ensure that people living with or affected by HIV are included. Their involvement and leadership is critical to ensure that needs, issues, and language of those living daily with HIV are raised in accurate and helpful ways.
  3. Provide a safe space. Talking about HIV and AIDS often means talking about sensitive issues, such as sex and sexuality, gender inequalities and marginalized communities. Make sure you establish an atmosphere where the dialogue is respectful, and people feel confident to raise concerns or ideas as they wrestle with their own response without fearing that it will be reported elsewhere.
  4. Make it personal. HIV and AIDS is not an abstract concept but an issue that affects people in all churches and communities. Where possible, invite people living with HIV to share their stories of stigma and discrimination and provide opportunities for meeting participants to talk to each other one on one to really understand the human impact of HIV.

When leaders sign the personal commitment, make sure you know how to contact them to suggest resources they can use or actions they could take to fulfill their commitment. Also, to inspire other leaders to sign, submit their names and organization/community details online or send the list of names to

The personal commitment is available

as a brochure PDF (EN, FR, ES)

as a file you can print (EN, FR, ES)

Printed copies of the brochure are available in English French and Spanish. Order here

A poster of the personal commitment is also available in English PDF


Videos of religious leaders sharing their personal commitment to action can also help inspire participants:


The Most Rev. John Onaiyekan, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria


The Most Rev. Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa


Swami Agnivesh, India


Sheikh Mohamed Mostafa Gemea, Office of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Egypt


Right Rev. Julio Murray, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Panama


Rev. Dr Ofelia Ortega, Pastor of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba


Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches


Rev. Dr Calvin O Butts, III, pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York City, USA


Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee, Israel


Ms. Prudence Mabele, Executive Director, Positive Women’s Network, South Africa


Ms. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary of the World YWCA


H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Art of Living Foundation


Dr Kezevino Aram, Director, Shanti Ashram


Bishop James Okombo, Free Christian Assemblies Church, Kenya


Bishop Gerald Seale, Secretary General and CEO, Evangelical Association of the Caribbean


Bishop Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor, City of Refuge, United Church of Christ, USA

Keeping the Commitment

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In Iran following the Summit, the Ministry of Health supported efforts to work with religious groups around Tehran to raise awareness of HIV and support people living with HIV. A six-hour TV program on AIDS for World AIDS Day 2010 was also produced.

An inter-religious meeting in India was held with about 350 religious leaders present in Bangalore in September 2010. A meeting of Muslim leaders was also held in Delhi in December 2010. Many of the participants signed the personal commitment. Networking continues in India, along with further meetings for Hindu and Muslim leaders. The Indian Interfaith Coalition on HIV/AIDS has been resurrected and liaises with the government.

The videos and personal commitment will be taken to the upcoming World Evangelical Alliance Congress.

The European Council of Religious Leaders has disseminated information about the Summit and the commitment. A number of religious leaders in the network have signed.

The 2010 Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Stuttgart, Germany had a special session on HIV and encouraged signatures.

In making official visits to churches in other countries, one signer is meeting with people living with HIV as part of his ongoing commitment to listen to their experiences and promote inclusion in faith communities.

Many religious leaders signed a letter to G8 heads of state in 2010 calling on them to fulfill their promise of achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.