Today it is our privilege to
reflect on the work of Canon Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda.
Canon Gideon Byamugisha
Canon Gideon Byamugisha is an ordained priest in the Church
of Uganda. In 1992, he became the first African religious leader to openly
declare his HIV-positive status. He has since devoted his life to an AIDS
ministry which has taken him to over 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and
many other parts of the world.
Gideon is driven by a passion for the dignity and rights of
all people, especially those marginalised, stigmatised and discriminated
against because of their HIV-positive status. He has played leading roles in
the Church of Uganda's AIDS program, the Uganda AIDS Commission, World Vision
International, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, special conferences of the
United Nations, and in founding the African Network of Religious Leaders living
with or Affected by HIV and AIDS.
Gideon has successfully challenged AIDS-related stigma,
denial and discrimination within and outside the church. He has corrected wrong
and misleading information about HIV and AIDS, and provided accurate and
relevant information in a clear, easily understandable manner. He has spread
awareness of the multi-sectoral dimensions of the AIDS pandemic, especially the
ways in which people's choices are influenced by poverty, gender
discrimination, cultural practices and sexual violence. He argues that HIV and
AIDS are both preventable and manageable.
He calls upon people to spread hope about HIV through peer
education, counselling, home-based care, practical help and prayer, pointing to
an array of outstanding work with which people can engage.