Introducing World AIDS Day: Getting to ZeroNovember 2011 by Ann Jones and George Kerr, Co-Moderators for Presbyterian AIDS Network (PAN)
December 1, 2011, World AIDS Day (WAD), is a day of awareness and action in the struggle to eradicate AIDS. The theme this year is Getting to Zero and our dream is Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, and Zero AIDS-related deaths. We must continue to be sacred activists against a deadly epidemic that still infects 2.7 million new people and claims two million lives annually. While these global numbers are sobering, World AIDS Day this year notes some positive changes. At least 56 countries have either stabilized or reduced new HIV infections by more than 25% in the last decade. New infections among babies have dropped by 25% and now more than 4 million people are on antiretroviral therapy.
Recently a series of highly publicized scientific advancements have fundamentally altered future possibilities and equipped us to turn the tide on HIV and AIDS. In May 2011, researchers announced a breakthrough that proved treating HIV positive people with antiretroviral therapy can reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to uninfected partners. We now know for certain that treatment is prevention.
Despite emerging opportunities, we also know that public concern about HIV and AIDS has plummeted significantly since 1995. We are greatly alarmed that global AIDS spending fell in 2010 and among nine states in the U.S. there are now over 8,500 persons on waiting lists for treatment.
“The global HIV/AIDS epidemic is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response. In particular it requires solidarity — between the healthy and the sick, between rich and poor, and above all, between richer and poorer nations. We have 30 million orphans already. How many more do we have to get, to wake up?” – Kofi Annan
Also, what makes this WAD and Presbyterian AIDS Awareness Sunday so significant is that it will begin the run-up to the International AIDS Conference to be held in Washington, DC in July 2012. This biannual conference is the premier gathering for thousands working in the field of HIV or living with the disease.
The 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) called upon all our congregations to become HIV and AIDS Competent Churches: http://www.pcusa.org/resource/becoming-an-hiv-and-aids-competent-church/. This involves providing relevant educational activities as well as advocacy, fund raising, direct service, and partnering. We hope that this packet will help in those endeavors as you plan for AIDS Awareness Sunday near World AIDS Day. PAN members would welcome an invitation to work with your congregation or presbytery in bringing together information and activism.
If you are not yet a part of Presbyterian AIDS Network, we encourage your membership and involvement. Within the context of faith we are called to transform public attitudes and policies. We invite HIV testing and encourage everyone to know his/her status. We believe it takes faith to believe in humanity in the face of what appear to be insurmountable problems. In your congregations, commit to build bridges between the world that is and the world that could be. Give of your time and your funds because it is one way the human spirit triumphs. Give because it is a privilege to support people working so hard in the world of AIDS. Give with courage – with heart – with faith.
Ann Jones and George Kerr
Co moderators for Presbyterian AIDS Network (PAN)
Watch for more World AIDS Day posts throughout the week on Unbound!
Check out the 2011 World AIDS Day Packet, including Advent and worship resources, a sample sermon, ways to take action, and many other helpful resources.
PAN is a network of the Presbyterian Health, Education & Welfare Association (PHEWA)
A ministry of the Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministry, General Assembly Mission Council
100 Witherspoon Street, Room 3228, Louisville, KY 40202-1396
Phone: 888-728-7228 ext. 5800 Fax: 502/569-8034 www.pcusa.org/phewa/pan