In this issue:
World AIDS Day, December 1st, is a bittersweet day, filled with mixed and varied emotions. It is a time to celebrate: to rejoice in the amazing work that has been accomplished around HIV and AIDS; to honor those who have been so committed to HIV prevention, education and care; and to recognize those who continue so passionately to do all they can to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS. Yet it is also a time to mourn, as we grieve the 2.1 million people around the world who have died just this year from AIDS related illnesses. And it is even a time to dream: to envision a day when HIV and AIDS will be eradicated and to empower new and renewed leadership to bring about a world free of HIV and AIDS.
The good news is that there is a cure for HIV and AIDS; it is called prevention education. Knowing, understanding and putting effective prevention education into action is essential as we move into the 27th year of this pandemic.
On World AIDS Day this year, do something! Start something new or continue something that has been already been established. Develop or attend a prayer service; talk to a friend about HIV and AIDS; contact your legislators about issues related to HIV and AIDS. For more ideas about how to celebrate World AIDS Day 2007, for resources, and other information, visit www.ucc.org/health/hivaids.
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR, is a five-year (2003 - 2008), $15 billion initiative to combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. It provides funding for fighting HIV and AIDS in the following countries: Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
In 2004, Congress appropriated $2.4 billion for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria work in relation to this Plan; in 2005, $2.6 billion was spent; $3.2 billion in 2006, and $4.5 billion in 2007. President Bush is proposing $5.4 billion for the coming year. Congress is set to reauthorize this global AIDS bill early in 2008 (www.avert.org/pepfar.htm).
The Plan currently states that 1/3 of all global HIV prevention money be spent on abstinence-until-marriage programs. It also includes a requirement that organizations receiving money from PEPFAR sign an anti-prostitution pledge. More specificially, no funds made available to carry out this Act may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.
The U.S. Senate HIV Prevention Act of 2007 would strike the earmark requiring that one-third of all PEPFAR prevention funding be dedicated to abstinence-until-marriage programs. The U.S. House Pathway Act of 2007 would similarly eliminate the requirement for one-third of all prevention funding to be spent on abstinence-until-marriage programs and would also require the development of a comprehensive and integrated HIV prevention strategy to address the vulnerabilities of women and girls to HIV infection.
Please contact your senators and representatives today and encourage them to pass both the HIV Prevention Act and the Pathway Act of 2007 in order to make PEPFAR more effective in fighting the global HIV and AIDS pandemic.
The Health and Wholeness Advocacy Office of the United Church of Christ believes that safer sexual behavior is a matter of life and death. We believe that people must have accurate safer sex information and access to all means of protection. We affirm abstinence as well as safer sexual behavior. For more information about UCC social policy statements related to HIV and AIDS, visit: www.ucc.org/health/hivaids/uccpolicy.html. For more information about Affirming Persons-Saving Lives, the UCC comprehensive HIV and AIDS educational curriculum: www.ucc.org/health/hivaids/apsl.
It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of our brother, Rev. Anthony Hollins, who was a devoted member of the United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network (UCAN) Leadership Team. Anthony died on November 25, 2007 at Stroger Hospital, in Chicago, IL, at the age of 42.
A celebration of Anthony’s life will be held at 11am on Saturday December 1, 2007 at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Trinity United Church of Christ HIV/AIDS Support Ministry or to the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference - Rev. Anthony Hollins Social Justice Leadership Award are welcomed.
Anthony will be remembered for his tenacity, his commitment and willingness to do all that he could in the fight against HIV and AIDS. We will never forget his dedication to the HIV/AIDS Ministry of Trinity Church, to UCAN, to the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, and so much more.
Everything Anthony did was grounded in a straight-forward manner as he saw and experienced the urgency underlying the AIDS pandemic. Yet his gentle pastoral skills with those who were affected by HIV and AIDS meant so much in the face of such struggle and tragedy.
Anthony understood that there is a cure for HIV; it is called prevention education. And as a leader, Anthony taught and showed people that they too must take leadership and implement prevention education as the key to erasing this disease for the next generation. Particularly as World AIDS Day approaches (December 1st), we pray that this message of hope might continue to live on, even as Anthony is no longer physically with us.