Killing a Pandemic
The church may be best equipped to deal HIV/AIDS a crippling blow
November 18, 2002
The blight of HIV/AIDS is worse than ever. Fresh estimates reveal that 1.2 percent of the world's population (age 15-49) is infected with HIV/AIDS. That's 74 million people. But in southern Africa, the rate is 18 times higher at 21.6 percent, giving the region the dreadful distinction of being the world's most infected area with nearly 11 million people with HIV/AIDS.
This deadly virus takes the strong and leaves the weak. In African families, when both parents have died, millions of orphaned brothers and sisters rely on grandparents or other blood relatives, or they fend for themselves. But tragically, the motivations of some relatives are not pure. "We get a lot of cases of property grabbing where family members … leave the children with nothing," a Botswana social worker said recently in comments to the Johannesburg news media.
HIV/AIDS is growing rapidly in many nations that have had a low rate of infection. The CIA's National Intelligence Council reported that the "next wave" will occur in Nigeria, Ethiopia, India, Russia, and China, which collectively represent 40 percent of the global population. More startling was the council's frank admission: "Avoidance of high-risk behavior is the only proven way to prevent the disease." This conclusion goes counter to 20 years of failed attempts to fight HIV/AIDS, mostly with billions upon billions of low-cost condoms (rarely used consistently) and costly drug cocktails (hard to administer and distribute fairly).
Abstinence and fidelity
Christians in North America should note the sea change that is taking place in the public health community about HIV/AIDS prevention, opening a historic opportunity for outreach. New field research in Uganda, Senegal, and Jamaica shows that the spread ...