World AIDS Day

December 1, 2009

It’s December 1. This is the day that is set aside to consider and respond to the problem of HIV and AIDS in our world, our country, our cities.

  • Since the beginning of the epidemic almost 60 million people have been infected by HIV and 25 million people have died of HIV related causes.
  • In 2008, there were 33 million people living with HIV, 2.7 million new infections, and 2 million AIDS related deaths.
  • In 2008, 430,000 children were born with HIV, bringing the total number of children under age 15 living with HIV to 2 million.
  • Young people (age 15-24) account for 40% of the new cases of HIV.
  • Lesi, the chaplain for Matthew 25 here in Henderson County said that in our area, the estimate for new infections in young people (15-24) is closer to 80% of the total.
  • Sub-Sahara Africa is the region that is most affected. This population accounts for 67% of all people living with HIV/AIDS and 91% of new infections among children.
  • In Sub-Sahara Africa, HIV/AIDS has orphaned 14 million children.

(source: UNAIDS)

Every 15 seconds, someone dies from HIV/AIDS.

Consider that AIDS is 100% preventable.

Consider that there are treatments available that keep an infected mother from passing the disease to her unborn child.

Consider that the cost for the medicine that will keep someone with HIV/AIDS alive is just 40 cents per day.

Consider that 25% of the people who are infected have no idea that they are infected.

Consider that there is still a strong stigma associated with this disease and that people who are infected are often treated with hate and judgment.

This is a problem that is overwhelming the world and will only continue to get worse without intervention. Education, testing, treatment, funding, prayer, support and hopefully one day a vaccine or a cure are all needed.

The Church has been slow to respond to these issues. There are many churches who will not talk about this problem or support local or international organizations and efforts–either because talking about transmission (sex and drugs) is uncomfortable or because of the stigmas still associated (unfairly and inaccurately) with AIDS. I’m so glad that this does not describe our church. We have been supporting and welcoming Matthew 25 through funding, educational programs for adults and teenagers, the AIDS Walk, and volunteer programs for a number of years now.

Tomorrow night, Wednesday December 1 at 6:00 p.m., we will host dinner and the annual World AIDS Day service for Matthew 25, their clients, our church members and our community. It will be a time of prayer, remembering and celebration of lives being lived with/despite HIV and AIDS.

The truth is that we cannot just sit back and ignore the HIV/AIDS Epidemic. We can’t pretend that it’s not happening and we can’t pretend that it doesn’t affect us. Many of us know someone who is infected or have known someone who has lost his or her life due to complications from HIV/AIDS. It’s overwhelming to think about what can and needs to be done, but we can start by simply praying or donating or volunteering or becoming educated about the issues and the problems.

Here are some resources:

Matthew 25 Clinic and Services

The United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS