On my two trips into Uganda I had the honor to meet and spend some time with families and individuals who have been affected by HIV AIDS. It not only affects those who have it, but scores of children who are left parent-less as the pandemic spreads due to a lack of sanitation, cultural beliefs, stigmatism against those with HIV/AIDS resulting in not getting help out of fear of reprisal or shunning, Governmental denial, and brutality towards women.
I remember sitting in a training session in Kenya under some of World Vision's top leaders in the field, as well as others working closely with those infected and affected by the disease. Listening to story after story of pain and tragedy was hard, numbing at times. I vividly remember one stat given in the training. Each day, the number of people dying from HIV/AIDS was equivalent to experiencing the death toll of about two-and-a-half 9/11 tragedies each and every day…day after day after day. The numbers for the region have changed, but still can you imagine how much more fervently we in the US would be addressing this issue if upwards of 7000+ people were dieing each day here in the States? I think there would be such an outcry to our government like we have never seen.
In Uganda, the numbers were getting better as the government, churches and the people were all making an effort to work together to educate the people about safer sex practices through the ABC's:
B: Be Faithful
C: Condom Use
This brought Uganda's HIV/AIDS percentages down from the 30 percentile range in some areas, with an average of about 17% nationwide to around 5 % today by most resources I have found.
The church has played a huge role in Uganda. The pulpit has sway to remove the stigmatism, speak truth with grace, and love those who have been hit both as victim and perpetrator.
The women in these countries need our prayers and support. Very often, they have no choice, and infection comes not because of promiscuity, but due to rape, and forced sex. In some of the groups I had an opportunity to talk with, there was a practice of female genitalia mutilation, which was a cause not only of infection, but very often death. And the next generation will be paying for the results of the current pandemic if that generation even lives to experience the consequences.
So, would you join me in praying on Monday December 1st? Would you consider doing something to help not only globally, but locally? Here are some links to get more information on how you can pray and help!
Here is the U.N 2008 report on HIV/AIDS