Wed 29 Nov 2006
Friday Dec 1 is World Aids Day
Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 3.1 million (between 2.8 and 3.6 million) lives in 2005, of which more than half a million (570,000) were children.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2006 is accountability. Local and national campaigns are encouraged to develop campaigns and activities that are meaningful in their own contexts under the overall theme of accountability and ideally using the slogan “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise.”
Billions have been spent fighting HIV/AIDS and billions more have been set aside to continue the battle. Thanks to anti-retroviral treatment (ART), AIDS is a chronic illness in the rich world and progress is being made even in the world’s poorest countries. The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria have made fighting AIDS a major priority. Civil society and the international community no longer debate whether to fund prevention or treatment, but rather what year people living with the disease will have universal access to prevention and treatment.
One could even argue that we are beginning to turn the corner on the AIDS pandemic. An old nemesis, however, is re-emerging at a lightning pace, threatening to halt or even reverse our journey around that corner.
While much more is still needed, as World AIDS Day arrives, dramatic gains have been realized in reducing deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, with more than a million receiving ART in developing countries. But tuberculosis among people with HIV/AIDS continues to take a heavy toll, and the surfacing of extremely drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) raises fresh concerns about a new epidemic far more deadly than standard TB.
To save more lives and combat the threat of XDR-TB, there must be greater coordination between efforts to fight TB and programs that address AIDS. Greater investment in TB and TB-HIV initiatives is essential, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the two diseases combine to do their worst.
World AIDS Day: 5 Things You Can Do
The Challenge of AIDS, Laid at the Feet of the Church
Two-month-old Innocent drinks a bottle of milk given to him by caregiver Seddie, while his mother Vere, 27, lies ill behind him. World Vision is assisting HIV sufferers like Vere by resourcing and training caregivers and providing supplies, and caring for children orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS. Vere passed away two weeks after this photo was taken by Andrea Dearborn.
Every 14 seconds, a child loses a parent to AIDS. This is a challenge laid at the feet of each and every person on the planet who considers compassion a virtue, and particularly to those who believe there is a God who cares for and identifies with those who suffer in silence.
The clock is ticking. We must do what we can today to start building a better world for children, to do all we can to put their needs first. AIDS is devastating families and communities around the world, and children are suffering the most. We urge you to consider carefully the following practical ideas for putting your faith into action.
It all starts here, because the One to whom we pray is truly the only One who has the power, ultimately, to bring this crisis to an end. Pray for the tens of millions of children whose lives have been affected by AIDS. Ask God to show you what you can do. Pray that our leaders will make decisions that put children first. Join World Vision’s Hope Prayer Chain to keep informed about ways you can pray intelligently.
2. Learn more about AIDS.
Take the World Vision AIDS Test to gauge your knowledge of HIV fact and fiction. If your score isn’t yet perfect, you can study up on our Hope Initiative Web site. Then send the test to five of your friends.
Visit the World Vision AIDS Experience when it arrives in a city near you. On this World AIDS Day, December 1, it will be in New York, Seattle and Charlotte, NC. You can also take a virtual tour online.
Visit someone who is affected by AIDS. Ask how it has changed his or her life.
3. Get involved.
Join with your church or another group to assemble Caregiver Kits. World Vision aims to collect 20,000 kits by World AIDS Day. The kits are full of supplies that can improve or prolong the lives of those living with AIDS, while protecting caregivers from infection.
Students at nearly 100 Christian campuses are already involved in the battle, through the group Acting on AIDS. Consider starting a chapter at your college.
Pastors and church leaders have an opportunity to get to know their counterparts in AIDS-affected communities through our C2C program for churches.
Through Team World Vision, join or form a World Vision AIDS Walk for orphans. Several are planned, including events in Chicago, and in California at Monterey Bay and in Orange County.
4. Give generously, and encourage others to follow your example.
World Vision’s HopeChild sponsorship offers a way you can help a child orphaned or made vulnerable by AIDS, while also mobilizing an entire community to prevent HIV and care for the afflicted.
Host a Global Dinner event, inviting friends to learn about the people and foods of an AIDS-affected country, and providing the opportunity to sponsor a HopeChild.
Donate to World Vision’s Orphans and Widows Fund to help where most needed.
5. Advocate for our leaders to put children first.
World Vision is asking the Bush Administration to allocate at least $5 billion to the global fight against AIDS in fiscal 2008, with at least 10 percent for programs directly helping orphans and vulnerable children.
You can make your mark for children by adding your name or “orange thumbprint” to one of the petitions at World Vision events. You can also go online to add your virtual signature to a petition.