Sunday, Dec. 1, is World AIDS Day.
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nation's Programme on HIV/AIDS, reported that at the end of last year, 40 million people were living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world. By 2010 that number is expected to grow to 60 million and a more recent report suggests that number could be as high as 100 million.
All the statistical data indicate that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is in its infancy.
"The global impact of this disease makes every day a world AIDS day," says the Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, "and World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, a special opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the special ministry of healing in a world with HIV."
Schuenemeyer is Executive for HIV/AIDS Ministries for the UCC's Wider Church Ministries. "The truth is," he says, "HIV infection is 100 percent preventable. There are methods of education that are proven to be effective and there are drug therapies that can extend both the quality and length of life."
"Throughout the world and in the UCC, people are realizing the opportunity we have to stop HIV infection, care for the sick and their families, learn about HIV and advocate for the commitment of resources needed to fight this horrible disease," he says.
Resources are available. A litany for World AIDS Day is on the UCC website at www.ucc.org/worship/ways/vol2-1-3.pdf.
A comprehensive HIV/AIDS curriculum, "Affirming Persons, Saving Lives," is available free, except for shipping and handling ($12). Order from United Church Resources (800-537-3394).