Empowering churches helps to reduce new infections of HIV
BALTIMORE – This World AIDS Day, World Relief urges sustained vigilance to eradicate HIV/AIDS. Even though HIV infection is preventable and effective treatment available, 5,000 new HIV infections still occur every day, and nearly 40 million people are infected, according to UNAIDS. Access to testing and maintaining treatment remain challenges, along with lingering stigma.
World Relief is committed to tackling these issues in partnership with the local churches through strengthening family relationships that enhance marital faithfulness and the value of women, advocating for testing and adherence to treatment, and encouraging family economic growth. Additionally, these partnerships are also a vehicle for educating communities about the vulnerability of young girls who are up to fourteen times times more likely to get HIV than their male counterparts according to U.S. government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 2019 Annual Report to Congress
“There is a lot of stigma and shame out there around HIV/AIDS that is preventing persons, especially men and youth, from accessing the resources necessary to be tested and treated,” said Scott Arbeiter, president of World Relief. “This is why it is so important for the church to create an atmosphere of acceptance, opportunity and support for those with HIV/AIDS.”
Research has shown that faith-based organizations have lowered the barriers of access to health services and have helped those infected not only get the treatment they need but maintain it.
An African proverb says, “Wisdom is like a baobab tree. No one person can embrace it.” World Relief and church partners together build communities of nonjudgmental support for reducing HIV transmission and treatment, significantly contributing to the 2019 World AIDS Day theme, “Communities Make the Difference.” Working with the church has proven to be one of the most effective networks for raising both awareness and support.
”HIV is still the leading cause of death around the world among women of reproductive age in developing countries,” said Tim Breene, CEO of World Relief. “This is why at World Relief we are committed to providing full and complete information to youth about sex and HIV risk, enabling them to make wise choices. Our couples’ training and Families for Life program promotes mutual respect, honor and faithfulness, and Biblical training, to enable behavior change.”
World Relief has worked in HIV/AIDS for more than 25 years, starting in Malawi and Swaziland. In the years following the genocide in Rwanda, the HIV prevalence rate was estimated at 13%. World Relief saw a critical need to work with the government, communities, and churches to raise awareness, create support groups and home care for people infected, and care for orphans. World Relief Rwanda’s HIV/AIDS programs reached at least 403,560 people during this critical period.
Today, the “baobab tree” is more fully embraced by communities and churches working together with World Relief, covering South Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Haiti and Cambodia.
For more information about how you can help, World Relief’s CEZs and HIV/AIDS prevention work and other projects, visit worldrelief.org.
About World Relief:
World Relief is a global Christian humanitarian organization that seeks to overcome violence, poverty and injustice. Through love in action, we bring hope, healing and restoration to millions of the world’s most vulnerable women, men and children through vital and sustainable programs in disaster response, health and child development, economic development and peacebuilding, as well as refugee and immigration services in the U.S. For 75 years, we’ve partnered with churches and communities, currently across more than 20 countries, to provide relief from suffering and help people rebuild their lives.
Learn more at worldrelief.org.