Led by NAZ, a BAME-led sexual health agency, Faithworks was created to address the sexual health inequalities in BAME communities, it involved the Africa Advocacy Foundation and the Jewish Aids Trust.
It did this by working with faith leaders to engage them in meaningful conversations about HIV and sexual health. It aimed to give religious leaders the confidence to talk with their communities about HIV, to help reduce the stigma associated with HIV and normalise testing.
Faith leaders have a huge amount of trust and respect within their communities. This project recognised the potential they have to increase awareness and understanding, as well as changing attitudes. It aimed to help faith leaders, and those newly in training of all religions, develop skills to be able to provide pastoral and health support for people living with HIV, as well as be a voice in their community to help spread messages about prevention and testing.
“We know faith leaders can do a lot towards fighting HIV stigma and improving the lives of people who have HIV and would value their support. We want them to change the way they address sexual health issues within their community and we’re giving them the tools to change attitudes and promote positive health messages.” – Rachel, Faithworks
What the project did
The project ran information sessions with faith leaders, and wherever possible their congregations, to improve their understanding of what it means to live with HIV and tackle some of the topics people traditionally feel uncomfortable talking about. The team also took the opportunity to conduct testing in faith settings.
So far, Faithworks has reached over 3,000 people from various faith congregations. Testing in faith settings has found two people who did not know they were living with HIV, and one person who had disengaged with their care. All are now receiving treatment and support.
“There is still a lot of resistance to discussing HIV within faith organisations. We’re empowering faith leaders to talk openly about HIV and help make talking about HIV and getting tested part of normal life.”
Find out more about NAZ’s work on their website: www.naz.org.uk