Faith Forward 2030

Fighting for Our Lives
Attendees pose together at the United States Conference on HIV and AIDS
Daniel Leyva, Latino Religious Leadership Program, Latino Commission on AIDS, Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, Executive Director, UCC HIV & AIDS Network, Rev. Edwin Sanders, Senior Servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church, Rev. Dr. David Williams, Senior Pastor MCC Christ the Liberator, Rev. Charles Straight, Pastor, Faith United Methodist Church, Dr. Ulysses Burley, Project Director, HVTN Faith Initiative; Founder, UBtheCURE LLC.. Rev. Andrea Vassell, Bishop Elect for Africa and The Caribbean, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries. Elder Carmarion D. Anderson-Harvey, Alabama State Director, Human Rights Campaign. Pedro Julio Serrano, Director, Empodérate de Waves Ahead. Cary Goodman, National Program Director, The Balm In Gilead, Inc.. Rev. Demi McCoy, Creative Program Manager, Wake Forest Divinity, Gilead COMPASS Faith Coordinating Center. Louis Shackelford, Project Manager, External Relations, HVTN/CoVPN. Rev. Dr. Sande Bailey-Gwinn, Founder, Foundations For Living. Dr. Stephaun Wallace, Director, External Relations, HVTN/CoVPN

84% of the human population professes a personal faith, and 40% of healthcare delivery in low- and middle-income nations is delivered by faith institutions (clinics, hospitals, community health centers). In places like sub-Saharan Africa, faith-based healthcare is as high as 70% in some countries, with HIV/AIDS as one of the greatest health concerns for faith-based organizations that are very well connected to local public health departments and HIV planning processes. However, in the United States, where faith-based healthcare only accounts for about 17% of healthcare delivery, faith leaders (clergy and lay) and congregations are often not well informed or connected to public health efforts for HIV and AIDS. Likewise, HIV-related stigma continues to be a barrier for U.S. faith communities still challenged by narrow views on sex, sexuality, and diverse identities in a country where LGBTQIA+ communities are most impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Therefore, in 2015 a group of U.S. faith-based advocates organized as the U.S. HIV and AIDS Faith Coalition (USHAFC) to change the narrative and deliver an enriching experience of education and storytelling to U.S. faith leaders ahead of the United States Conference on HIV and AIDS (USCHA), the largest annual HIV gathering in the United States. People of faith and goodwill, people living with HIV, and people working in the HIV and AIDS response gathered for a one-day interfaith pre-conference in advance of USCHA to discuss and develop strategies to strengthen the capacity of houses of worship and faith-based organizations who were engaged, or wished to engage, in efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

Throughout the years, the USHAFC has hosted these pre-conferences under themes like “HIV and the Faith Factor,” “Faith on the Fast Track to Stop AIDS,” “Faith Vision 2020,” and “Faith Forward 2030,” in line with national and international HIV awareness campaigns as well as the themes of the U.S. Conference on HIV and AIDS. Since the founding of USHAFC, our programming has expanded beyond a one-day interfaith preconference at the USCHA into a coalition that offers various programming throughout the year. This programming focuses on the role of faith communities in the HIV response to:

  • create awareness through education;
  •  ensure everyone knows their HIV status and is linked to prevention or treatment support as needed;
  • address stigma, discrimination, and related health disparities;
  • lobby for adequate funding to address HIV in the U.S. and around world;
  • strengthen the resolve and commitment to achieve the goal of ending AIDS as public health threat by 2030.

This year we gathered in person for the first time in three years in San Juan, Puerto Rico ahead of the 2022 USCHA under the theme “Faith Forward: Fighting for our Lives.” Understanding the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Fiona, we hosted a hybrid program to be most accessible to people who were unable to travel to San Juan, as well as those local faith communities who were still actively recovering from the aftermath of the hurricane.

With the support of the United Church of Christ, HVTN, The Latino AIDS Commission, and Gilead Sciences, the USCHA interfaith PreConference featured a dynamic program that included multifaith centering rituals, a biomedical research update delivered by HVTN External Relations Director Dr. Stephaun Wallace, a panel discussion highlighting the lived experiences of Latinx people of faith who are living with HIV, updates on the faith response to HIV globally and in the U.S. South, and a keynote by Human Rights Activist Pedro Julio Serrano. Serrano made history in 1998 when he became the first openly LGBTQIA+ and HIV+ person to run for elective office in the history of Puerto Rico. He lifted up the history of Puerto Rico, pointed out the challenges the political relationship with mainland U.S. poses in the response to HIV on the island, and encouraged faith leaders to continue to be strong advocates for the people of Puerto Rico.

In retrospect, the Interfaith Preconference was an opportunity to explore intersections like geopolitics, climate change, and language justice impacting Latinx communities of faith in a U.S. territory that differ from, but are no less significant than, those present in the mainland U.S. These issues deserve the full attention and activism of faith communities committed to fighting for the lives of people impacted by HIV and AIDS.

To learn more about the USHAFC or experience moments from the 2022 USCHA Interfaith PreConference please visit