World AIDS Day

Snow! On TV I saw a reporter in a snow blizzard saying “Yes there’s snow in Northumbria”. Snow is still news, even though we live in northern Europe and it’s winter!

We hear about snow, but one of the biggest emergencies has dropped out of the headlines – the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today 1st December is World AIDS Day. Hopefully the media spotlight will shine on those struggling against HIV/AIDS in our community and all over the world. In the UK treatment now offers near normal life expectancy, but social issues loom large – prejudice, money worries, and how to tell friends and family.

In poorer countries many people don’t receive treatment. Globally, infections still outpace treatment by 2 to 1. But there is good news. New infections have stabilised or reversed in 56 countries. Numbers of children born with HIV have decreased by a quarter since 2005. Money and medicines are desperately needed but so are changes in attitude towards HIV/AIDS . Stigma still prevents people getting tested and treated in time.

Christians and local churches globally have been leading in the fight against HIV/AIDS. I saw this myself in a remote South African village. I went out with a group from a local church who visited families devastated by HIV/AIDS – challenging prejudice by showing compassion for neighbours in need. The World Council of Churches has called on religious leaders to speak up against the stigma and all forms of violence that make people more vulnerable to HIV transmission.

The good news about Jesus churches celebrate at Christmas isn’t in the headlines either. Top news on Christmas Day will be snow if it comes! But caring by local churches for those with HIV/AIDS will carry on, inspired by the love of Jesus, whether in the news or not.

Published today in the Wokingham Times on behalf of Churches Together in Wokingham

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