An AIDS-Free Generation
Stigma-Free Faith Communities

Faith Community Self-Evaluation

"We're not dying from the disease. We're dying from stigma."

These words from a Christian woman in Zambia reflect the reality of AIDS: stigma is a major factor driving the epidemic. People who have been infected with HIV fear what their neighbors will say and what the authorities will do. Consequently, they do not go for testing or treatment. The disease spreads faster and people die faster.

Local faith communities can play a vital role in reducing stigma because of the influence they have over the attitudes and behavior of their members and of the wider community. In the past, many faith communities have increased stigma by preaching judgmental messages. But many other faith communities have actively worked to reduce stigma, transforming their congregations into places of hope for people living with HIV.

Successfully eliminating stigma often requires that a faith community transform itself, perhaps going through several cycles of transformation. During each cycle, the faith community identifies its strengths and weaknesses, and undertakes actions that will turn some of the weaknesses into strengths. After several cycles, all of the weaknesses will have become strengths and the faith community will be free of the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS.

The questionnaire is designed to help local faith communities identify their strengths and weaknesses as they go through the transformation cycles. In addition, the information is used to determine Stigma Load, which is a numerical indicator of progress that a faith community is making toward the elimination of stigma.

Although the questionnaire is intended primarily for use by faith communities themselves, the information can also be used to characterize regional and global progress in reducing the stigma of HIV and AIDS. Results will be publicly available only in the form of statistical summaries. Information about specific faith communities will be kept strictly confidential.

Thank you in advance for your help.

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