Faith-based organizations will play a key role in reducing the AIDS epidemic through abstinence programs in 15 countries listed under the Bush Administration’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. Nine faith-based groups and two community-based organizations were awarded five-year grants totaling $100 million, the Administration announced Monday.
The awards are part of the President's $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. With the grant money earned after competitive bidding process, winning organizations will implement an abstinence-promoting program called “HIV/AIDS Prevention Through Abstinence and Healthy Choices for Youth.”
Several internationally recognized Christian ministries were among the chosen organizations, including Food for the Hungry, Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, and World Vision.
The organizations will direct abstinence programs toward the 15 countries where 50 percent of HIV infections occur worldwide. The countries are: Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia.
It is hard to ignore the impact faith-based and community-based organizations can make regarding AIDS in these countries, according to Ambassador Randall Tobias, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.
"Faith-based and community-based organizations have a reach, authority and legitimacy that make them crucial partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS," Tobias said.
"If we were to work in developing countries but refuse to work with faith-based organizations, we would be harming our ability to save lives-and that is just incomprehensible to us. America will continue to take advantage of the expertise, experience and passion of faith-based service providers to turn the tide of HIV/AIDS worldwide."
In fighting AIDS in countries severely affected by the disease, aiming abstinence programs toward the youth will make a big difference since nearly of all new infections occur in the 15 to 24-year-old age group. Programs will educate parents on their role in positively influencing the youth and also address the sexual coercion, violence and exploitation of young people, according to a press release from U.S. AID.
In the U.S., spending for abstinence education programs will possibly increase by 49%, amounting to $105 million, as part of a bill introduced in the House. Vote for the bill is expected next year.