Saturday, August 05, 2006

What General Convention Did: HIV/AIDS

Let me return to one of my ongoing projects. This time, I’m writing about actions of the 75th General Convention regarding health care.

In an earlier post I wrote about resolutions presented for General Convention addressing HIV/AIDS, and related issues. Four resolutions were considered, and passed in some form.

Resolution A131 resolved to continue the work of the Standing Committee on HIV/AIDS of the Executive Council for the next triennium. The particular focus stated in the resolutions was to “focus on mechanisms for increasing HIV/AIDS awareness in our Church, reducing the effects of stigmatization by HIV/AIDS and continue the process of identifying those whom we are called to serve but may overlook….” Resolution A131 was passed in both houses. It was, however, noted that the resolutions of the Standing Committee of General Convention on the Structure of the Church has passed, including one that moved Committee on HIV/AIDS from being a Standing Committee of the Executive Council to being a subcommittee of the reactivated Standing Commission of the General Convention on Health. A list of Committees, Commissions, Agencies, and Boards posted since Convention on the General Convention web site shows both the Standing Commission on Health and the Committee on HIV/AIDS. So, there’s some administrative work still to be done.

Resolution A132 addressed the continuing stigma of those living with HIV/AIDS. The resolution called for Episcopal congregations and individuals to:

“Acknowledge that the stigmatization of anyone due to disease, and particularly due to HIV/AIDS, creates impediments to seeking treatment and care…
Affirm that the teachings of Jesus Christ clearly state that sickness and disease are not the result of sin in the human family.
Acknowledge that our Baptismal Covenant vows obligate us to respect the dignity of every human being and to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves and that the stigmatization of those among us with disease is a violation of those vows; and be it further
Educate their constituent members about HIV/AIDS with a goal of eliminating any stigma associated with the disease.
Educate their local, state and federal elected officials and representatives about HIV/AIDS with the goal of creating knowledgeable, compassionate, and sensitive public policy….”

A132 was also passed by both houses in its original form.

A133 called for the Communication Office of the Church to collaborate with the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition (NEAC) to form a working group to develop a campaign to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS. This was also passed as submitted. However, the resolution did not include funds for the purpose, and one can fear that the resources of the Communication Office may well be stretched to include this, no matter how valuable.

Resolution A134
called for

"the Office of Peace and Justice Ministries of the Episcopal Church, working in collaboration with the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition (NEAC) and the Executive Council Committee on HIV/AIDS [to] develop a HIV training curriculum by the 76th General Convention, thereafter to be updated each triennium…
[to] focus on information on the transmission, treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS, addressing the demographic and social implications; and…
that this training curriculum be offered as [a] web-based, self-directed tutorial; and…
that each diocese will strongly encourage that lay and ordained leadership complete this training."

A134 was also passed as submitted. Once again, the resolution did not include designation of funds. We can hope that this will be possible within the combined resources of the Office of Peace and Justice Ministries and of the Committee on HIV/AIDS, wherever it winds up in the structures of the Church.

A135 called for a survey to list all the HIV/AIDS ministries and resources throughout the Church. Unfortunately, this resolution was never reported out of the designated legislative committee.

These were certainly valuable actions. HIV/AIDS continues to be an important issue, and the Committee is right: it’s fallen off the radar screens, and lost the attention of many. If these actions are completed over the next triennium, we will have returned that attention to an issue that has ramifications for our own Church, for our commitment to the Millennium Development Goals, and for our relations with other Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

No comments: