The Blount Center sponsored a conversation with the Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha held at Emory University, Rollins School of Publice Health.
Gideon Byamugisha is a priest in the Anglican Church of Uganda. His public witness of support and compassion for all people living with HIV/AIDS has helped to shape the global church’s best responses to the epidemic.
Gideon found out he was HIV positive in April 1991, soon after his wife became ill. Within a matter of weeks she was dead. His colleagues were largely supportive but pleaded with Gideon to keep his infection a secret. He refused, becoming the first known religious leader in Africa to publicly declare his HIV-positive status. It took a decade for Gideon’s singular decision to grow into a broader response, but in 2002, forty-two other religious leaders added their voices to his to found INERELA+: the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS. Those voices number in the thousands today and represent a powerful social movement to replace stigma and discrimination with compassion and comprehensive education.