From the very beginning, The Wall-Las Memorias Project (TWLMP) has been deeply tied to communities of faith. In the initial planning stages of The AIDS Monument many faith leaders reached out to the agency in supported of the project. Two Roman Catholic priests went onto becoming founding board members of the organization.
TWLMP believes that our faith institutions must be incorporated into HIV education, health and wellness. Latinos are deeply tied to their faith and religious traditions; religious practices are deeply rooted in the culture. In 2003, the Office of AIDS Programs and Policy awarded the organization a faith-based HIV/AIDS prevention grant, creating the Project Faith program. As a result, the agency outreached to over 800 faith-based institutions in Los Angeles County—including Roman Catholic, Protestant and the Evangelical communities.
TWLMP took the program a step further when they collaborated with California State University of Long Beach, Latino Studies Institute, to conduct the Voces de Fe y Cultura research project. The project looked at the link between religiosity, faith and how they impact Latinos and HIV. The research study was designed to deepen the understanding of how religion and religious institutional contexts, coupled with Latino cultural and sexual norms influence individual attitudes and behaviors related to HIV risk reduction and prevention.
Voces de Fe y Cultura helped define the community with more insight in the intersections of faith, culture and HIV. We constantly work to foster a greater understanding and dialogue on HIV/AIDS, sexuality and the faith community.
Project Faith is the first program of its kind, providing innovative HIV prevention services to Latino faith based communities in Los Angeles County. The program successfully incorporates a discussion of culture, faith, mental health, substance abuse and sexuality into its HIV education and prevention strategy. More important of all it fosters a safe and trusting relationship with the faith community to provide quality and culturally appropriate HIV, health and wellness education.
The faith community is one of love and compassion; we feel that our culture, our community and our faith institutions play a huge role in preventing the spread of HIV infection. Much of our population in Los Angeles County lack access to quality health care and education; they are often misinformed about basic health education. People often turn to their religious leaders for guidance and support. Project Faith is committed to providing resources to support people who are impacted by HIV/AIDS, prevent new infections, to get people the care they need and normalize HIV testing. We work closely with faith leaders from all denominations to meet the unique needs of each congregation.