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Melanesian Messenger Online distributed by the
Church of the Province of Melanesia
ACOM develops HIV & AIDS policy
May 1, 2007

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] The new HIV and AIDS policy developed by the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACOM) is being viewed as a catalyst for a strong and concerted fight by Church members to help prevent and reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS in the Province of Melanesia.

The policy, currently in draft form, was developed by the ACOM HIV and AIDS Committee in response to a call for the Church to address the issue of HIV and AIDS in the Anglican communities in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia following an endorsement by the General Synod of 2005.

The document is intended as a code of practice for all in ministry and employees of the Church and also offers a framework for dioceses, parishes, institutions, training centers and ministries within the Church.

It is anticipated that this policy will enable the Church to have a common, caring approach that upholds the dignity, rights, benefits and opportunities of all people living with HIV and AIDS.

The main issues addressed by the policy are personal responsibility and behavior; Christian values and prevention; stigma and discrimination; testing and screening; privacy and confidentiality; employment; care and support, and pastoral care.

According to the Committee, an approach to be adopted in this fight would be one of commitment, coordination, communication and cooperation.

In the development of this policy, the HIV and AIDS policy of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea was used as a tool and guide because of its relevance and significance in the Melanesian context in terms of culture, values and beliefs.