By Jacek Tyszko, Senior Adviser for Faith Engagement, UNAIDS
It is with deep sadness that I received the news that the Reverend Phumzile Mabizela, the Executive Director of the International Network of Religious Leaders Living With and/or Personally Affected by HIV (INERELA+), passed away on 5 July.
Her dynamic leadership championed the welfare of people living with HIV globally and equipped faith communities to face HIV, strive for justice and guide faith engagement in the HIV response. She played an important role in shaping and implementing the UNAIDS/United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Faith Initiative.
Her death is a deep and inconsolable loss for faith communities, as well as for human rights defenders. She was a dear friend, sister and teacher to many of us.
She died from COVID-19 while serving on the front line of the HIV response, leading and calling for an end to AIDS and inequality.
We send our condolences to her family.