Published: 29th November 2004
While many people believe that Christians are prejudiced towards those living with HIV and AIDS, estimates suggest that Christian-run projects account for more than two thirds of all HIV/AIDS care in sub-Saharan Africa, where 25 million people have the disease, 60% of the world's total. However, in view of the fact that the rate of global HIV infection is at its highest ever level, the Church in the UK and throughout the West cannot rest on its laurels and it must now increase its efforts still further to combat the disease.
Steve Fouch, Allied Professions Secretary at CMF, said the role of Christian agencies was earning increasing recognition. He said, 'Global bodies like UNAIDS, the World Health Organisation and the Global Fund are stepping up worldwide strategies to tackle HIV and AIDS, and increasingly are seeking to work with Christian agencies. It is a great challenge for organisations such as CMF to work constructively with these bodies in tackling the global HIV crisis effectively, while at the same time holding on to our distinctive Christian voice, ethos and perspectives.'
CMF is linked to over 50 similar associations throughout the world through the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA). In recognition of the severity of the situation the ICMDA is setting up a specific study group to address the problem of HIV and AIDS, and to share models of best practice in the treatment, care and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
The latest figures show that around 40 million worldwide are infected and the disease is spreading faster than ever before. This year World AIDS Day [1 December] focuses on women and girls, and highlights studies which show that young women and girls are 2.5 times more likely to be HIV-infected than men and boys. The World AIDS Campaign is concerned by the way gender inequality fuels the AIDS epidemic.
Peter Saunders, General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, stated; “The grim reality in many places is that the most vulnerable people are young, faithful, married women. Despite the success of the 'ABC' (Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms) approach to prevention in many parts of Africa (especially Uganda), promiscuous male sexual behaviour and the low status and powerlessness of females place many young women at high risk of HIV. Furthermore, people trafficking and poverty force many girls and young women into commercial sex work putting them at a very high risk of acquiring HIV from their 'customers'.”
There are a range of resources for churches and local groups available through the UK Christian HIV & AIDS Alliance at www.chaa.org.uk. Widcombe Manor, Church Street, Bath BA2 6AZ, telephone 01225 480202.
Steven Fouch (CMF Head of Communications) 020 7234 9668
Alistair Thompson on 07970 162 225
Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) was founded in 1949 and is an interdenominational organisation with over 5,000 doctors, 900medical and nursing students and 300 nurses and midwives as members in all branches of medicine, nursing and midwifery. A registered charity, it is linked to over 100 similar bodies in other countries throughout the world.
CMF exists to unite Christian healthcare professionals to pursue the highest ethical standards in Christian and professional life and to increase faith in Christ and acceptance of his ethical teaching.