The Archbishop of Canterbury has awarded the Cross of St Augustine to the Rev Canon Gideon Byamugisha, Christian Aid’s goodwill ambassador on HIV and AIDS.
The Cross of St Augustine is awarded by the Archbishop to a small number of people in recognition of their distinguished service to the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion.
Canon Gideon received the award in recognition of his courageous and profoundly significant work promoting an effective, compassionate and just response to HIV and AIDS.
Speaking out on HIV
In 1992 Canon Gideon, a Ugandan cleric, became the first African religious leader to publicly announce that he was living with HIV.
A decade later, in 2003, Canon Gideon helped found the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with, or Personally Affected by, HIV and AIDS to challenge stigma and promote caring attitudes.
Following the success of the African network, the organisation scaled up its activities to become INERELA+, which works globally with and through religious leaders.
‘Throughout this work he has focused on the unique value of each human being in the sight of God,’ said the Archbishop.
HIV support and care
The organisation has brought significant changes for people living with HIV, not least by promoting the SAVE approach. This method has been adopted by many nongovernmental organisations and has influenced government policies on HIV around the world.
SAVE goes beyond the traditional ABC approach (which encourages people to abstain, be faithful and use a condom), looking at other means of prevention - such as promoting safe blood transfusions and preventing mother to child transmission.
It also emphasises the need to provide care and support and to challenge stigma.
Receiving the award, Reverend Byamugisha said: ‘I’m accepting this cross not just for myself, but on behalf of all the people who have supported me, nursed me, and inspired me to do more and be better.’
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