Churches told to lead effort against HIV and Aids

|PIC1|Church and charity leaders are marking World Aids Day on Monday with a call to Christians to lead the way in addressing HIV and Aids.

"Lives are at stake and sadly this affects families, communities and nations. We expect faith leaders – particularly from the churches - to provide the inspiration and opportunities for tackling the problem," said the head of Christian Aid, Daleep Mukarji.

Churches around the world marked the 20th anniversary year with special services on Sunday to highlight the plight of millions of sufferers and explore what more they can do to help tackle the pandemic.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu also highlighted the role of the church in supporting those affected by HIV.

Dr Williams urged Christians to keep in mind "the need both for prayer and for treatment".

"Hold those two together and do not let them be pulled apart, to make sure people see that their responsibilities before God, for their lives, include prayer and practical care," he said.

Dr Sentamu said that HIV and Aids prevention, treatment and care were some of the greatest healthcare challenges of our time.

"It is my prayer that globally we move from attitudes of stigmatising people living with HIV/Aids to supporting them in our congregations and communities."

Thirty-three million people are living with HIV. The majority - 96 per cent - are in developing countries.

World Vision issued a call to the Government and international community on the eve of World Aids Day to step up their commitment to providing HIV positive pregnant women with access to the services that can prevent transmission of the virus to their children. Two thirds of HIV positive pregnant women remain without access to such services despite world leaders agreeing in 2001 to provide them to 80 per cent of HIV positive pregnant women.

"The UK Government must continue to show leadership in the global response to HIV and Aids by ensuring that all pregnant women living with HIV and their babies have access to quality services to prevent transmission of HIV and provide life-saving treatment," said Kate Eardley, World Vision’s HIV and Aids Policy Officer.

On the web:
The Archbishop of Canterbury has launched a video message for World Aids Day at