Faith and Law: Blog

Faith and Law: Blog

June 7, 2019

Jenny Eaton Dyer, PhD

On May 17, I had the unique opportunity to co-speak with the Canon Gideon Byamugisha on the role of faith leaders and global AIDS in Washington, DC at a Faith & Law Symposium.

Faith & Law is a nonprofit organization that hosts a monthly symposium for speakers to address contemporary political and cultural issues from a Christian worldview for congressional staff on the Hill.

I was privileged to join Canon Gideon to discuss the history of HIV/AIDS in Africa, the policy and legislation to address this infectious disease including PEPFAR and the Global Fund, and how the U.S. worked with Uganda and other nations to implement prevention and care for HIV and AIDS successfully across the continent.

Canon Gideon spoke eloquently from his deep experience of living with the disease and his leadership in the church. In 1992, he was the first religious leader in Africa to publicly announce that he was HIV positive. Thereafter, he worked tirelessly among the faith communities in Uganda to destigmatize the disease so that others would pursue testing and treatment. In fact, he founded the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (ANERELA+), now an international organization with 10,000 members in 48 countries. While he applauded the historic funding and generosity of PEPFAR from the U.S., he also provided a nuanced critique of the limitations to the funding. Moreover, he discussed the theological obstacles from within some churches in Uganda and the U.S. which perpetuates stigma and shame, inhibiting good prevention mechanisms and care among vulnerable populations.

I shared the history and story of the role of evangelicals in advocating for global HIV/AIDS funding and legislation, dating back to 2001. With this background, I then dovetailed into policy-shaping of PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria over the past three Administrations. Because the Global Fund is up for its sixth three-year replenishment and is in need for a modest increase, I had the chance to share with staffers the importance of this increase; why it’s necessary if we want to end the epidemic by 2030; and why members of Congress need to showcase their leadership now to solidify robust funding which requires $2 for every $1 from other nations worldwide.

It was an honor to speak alongside Canon Gideon, and I hope our paths cross again.

Many thanks to Faith & Law for offering me the chance to speak at these important issues. 

Click here to listen to the audio recording of Canon Gideon and Jenny Dyer at the Symposium (may need to scroll down to locate)

*pictured above (L-R): Lauren Noyes - ED of Faith & Law, Canon Gideon, Jenny Eaton Dyer, PhD

Jennifer Dyer