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Friday Forums

The Role of Faith Leaders in Uganda and the U.S. in the Fight against Global AIDS

Canon Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda will share his personal story of living with HIV and about his work and leadership against stigma, shame, denial and discrimination, inaction and mis-action. Further, he will discuss his ministry and theology to uphold the human dignity and rights of people living with and most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS. Then, Dr. Jenny Dyer will will reflect on the critical role of faith leaders to shape policy and funding for Global AIDS since the beginning of the Bush Administration. She will look at the sustained support over the past three Administrations and the success of legislation, in part, thanks to their advocacy.

In 1992, Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda became the first religious leader in Africa to publicly announce that he was HIV positive. Before long, others came forward and Byamugisha founded the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (ANERELA+), now an international organization with 10,000 members in 48 countries.

Byamugisha holds a B.A in Education (Honors) from Makerere University, Kampala, a Bachelor of Divinity (First Class) from ATIEA Nairobi, and a Masters in Contextual & Applied Theology (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom). For his pioneering leadership, St Paul's Cathedral, Namirembe Diocese (Kampala, Uganda 2001), and Holy Cross Cathedral, (Lusaka Diocese, Zambia, 2003) conferred upon him the ecclesiastical title of Canon in the Anglican Church.

Canon Gideon, born in 1959, is the eldest of 14 children. In 1991, he lost his wife, Kellen to AIDS. Their daughter, Patience, is now 29. In 1995, Canon Gideon married Pamela (herself HIV positive and widowed by HIV/AIDS at a very young age). Thanks to advances in the prevention on Mother-to-Child Transmission, Pamela and Gideon have two HIV-negative children, Love, 15, and Hope, 13.

Jenny Dyer is the Founder of The 2030 Collaborative. As such, she directs the Faith-Based Coalition for Global Nutrition with support from the Eleanor Crook Foundation.

Dyer teaches Global Health Politics and Policy as a Lecturer in the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt School of Medicine, and she has taught Religion and Global Health as a Lecturer at Vanderbilt School of Divinity.

Dyer formerly served as the Executive Director for Senator Bill Frist, MD’s Hope Through Healing Hands from 2008-2018, and prior to that, she was the National Faith Outreach Director for the DATA Foundation and The ONE Campaign, Bono’s organization, from 2003-2008. In these roles, she has worked with religious leaders, authors, artists, and other faith-based leaders to promote awareness and advocacy for global health and development issues.

Dyer has written several academic articles and opinion pieces on the intersection of religion and global health. She has been published in TIME,, Huffington Post, Roll Call, Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics, Patheos, Relevant Magazine, Christian Post, Dallas Morning News, Washington Post, and The Tennessean, to name a few.

She is a contributor of Why Save Africa: Answers from around the World (2011) and a co-compiler of The Mother & Child Project: Raising Our Voices for Health and Hope (2015) and The aWAKE Project: Uniting Against the African AIDS Crisis (2002). Her forthcoming book as a co-editor, The End of Hunger: Renewed Hope for Feeding the World, will release in October 2019 with InterVarsity Press.

Dyer holds a B.A. in Religion from Samford University (1999), a Master of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School (2001), and a Ph.D. in History and Critical Theories of Religion from Vanderbilt University (2007).

She lives in Franklin, Tenn