Church Deliberations of World AIDS Day

"We must continue to speak up openly about AIDS for silence is death"
( [email protected] ) Nov 28, 2003 10:00 AM EST

In preparation for the upcoming World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, Christian leaders organized several venues of discussion and remembrance throughout Thanksgiving week.

On November 26, the 8th Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches gathered in Yaounde, Cameroon in a commitment to eliminating the widespread pandemic and subsequent stigma that has crippled their continent.

In Africa, where 20 million died from the virus and 14,000 are infected daily, heavy stigma and discrimination against those who disclose their HIV-positive status thwart the already cumbersome efforts to control the illness.

Often times, pastors a priest view HIV/AIDS as a punishment from God, and those infected with the virus are often blamed for the death of their loved ones and stripped of their possessions by their own family.

In Europe, several denominations co-coordinated evenings of workshops, worship and reflections focused on healing HIV.

The Church of Scotland and the Iona Community’s Holy City Team will hold its venue on Sunday, Nov. 30 at Glasgow, Scotland, with dozens of youth across the United Kingdom.

"In the first year of the project we've been encouraged by people's response, not least the support we've received from voluntary and statutory organisations - pleased to see the Kirk taking a stand on HIV/AIDS. We want to encourage Christians - especially young people - to learn more about why HIV should matter to them. So we're excited about Sunday evening's event and invite everyone to join us,” said project coordinator, Rev. Nigel Pounde.

The UN. Secretary general, Kofi Annan, also remarked on the remembrance.

"We must continue to speak up openly about AIDS. No progress will be achieved by being timid, refusing to face unpleasant facts, or prejudging our fellow human beings - still less by stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS. Let no one pretend that we can protect ourselves by building barriers between 'us' and 'them'. In the ruthless world of AIDS, there is no us or them. And in that world, silence is death...” said Annan.

"On this World AIDS Day, I urge you to join me in speaking up loud and clear about HIV/AIDS. Join me in tearing down the walls of silence, stigma and discrimination that surround the epidemic. Join me because the fight against HIV/AIDS begins with you."