CIFA seeks to mobilize, equip, and empower faith leaders to take action on HIV/AIDS. Faith leaders have been at the frontlines of the AIDS response since the earliest days of the epidemic, providing care for affected individuals, supporting orphans and families, and advocating for prevention. However, they have often worked in isolation from secular public health initiatives. Over the last decade, global public health actors have demonstrated increased interest in leveraging the significant capabilities of religious leaders to support HIV/AIDS programs. CIFA aims to create win-win partnerships between faith communities, governments and international partners in the fight against HIV by researching and developing models and tools for faith leaders and faith communities to take action to prevent the spread of HIV.
In March 2011, CIFA began a multi-country research study in partnership with Georgetown University, with support from the Gates Foundation, in Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria on how religious leaders can be involved in the implementation of a new biomedical approach to HIV prevention called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). CIFA is researching existing approaches to faith leader engagement in HIV prevention activities and developing new models and tools to ensure that methods and messages for PrEP are tailored to the faith audience.
Through a series of multi-faith consultations with religious leaders in Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria, several key lessons emerged:
An opportunity currently exists to roll out PrEP in a way that maximizes the synergies between public health and religious communities.