Partners in the fight against AIDS: International AIDS Ministries and Peacemaking address AIDS
Support Peacemaking and AIDS work
In 2007 the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expanded the Peacemaking Offering causes to include the fight against HIV and AIDS. This action encourages congregations and presbyteries to use their 25 percent of the Peacemaking Offering toward addressing HIV and AIDS issues globally and nationally. An HIV and AIDS and Peacemaking Offering Extra Commitment Opportunity, #E053504, supports the PC(USA) as it works with partner churches to address both the causes and impact of HIV and AIDS by empowering women, reducing poverty through income-generating activities and providing orphan care and support, home-based care and AIDS education in seminaries.
What makes AIDS a Peacemaking and Security Issue?
On 17 July 2000, the UN Security Council made history by discussing a health issue for the first time—the AIDS epidemic—and adopting Resolution 1308, which identifies the spread of AIDS as a threat to global peace and security, notably in the context of peacekeeping operations. Indeed, the links between AIDS and security are many.
Conflicts generate and entrench many of the conditions and the human rights abuses in which the AIDS epidemic flourishes. Poverty, powerlessness and social instability, all of which can facilitate HIV transmission, are exacerbated during wars and armed conflict. Physical and sexual violence, forced displacement and sudden destitution, the collapse of social structures and the breakdown of rule of law can put people at much greater risk of HIV infection.
People in such situations have less access to prevention and health services, and less control over their sexual life, either because hardship can force resort to transactional or commercial sex, or because of rape. Armies, militias, rebel troops and other uniformed services consistently rank among the population groups most infected by HIV, probably because they are young, male, away from home and families, have money to spend on commercial sex, and are risk-takers in situations of danger and high uncertainty. In conflict areas, refugees, sex workers, women, girls, children, young people, and humanitarian workers also face increased risk of infection.
At the end of 2005, there were 9 million refugees and 25 million displaced persons in the world (UNHCR). In some countries affected by conflict, HIV prevalence is already relatively high (e.g. around 5% in Congo). In others, prevalence is relatively low (e.g. Afghanistan, Colombia and countries of the Balkans). Better data collection, and more research and analysis is urgently needed to establish a stronger understanding of what countervailing factors might be at work in some settings.
At the same time, it is possible that in some cases the end of war or conflict can spur more rapid spread of HIV—as combatants and refugees move back to their homes, and as migration, trading and other forms of population mobility resume.
The humanitarian response and post-conflict reconstruction in such countries must address these heightened vulnerabilities to HIV. AIDS is also undermining social cohesion in many countries, and is increasingly recognized as a factor that can undermine social and political stability.
Widespread AIDS epidemics may exacerbate national security issues by fuelling unrest due to lack of development, decreasing social support, and spreading distrust of government, fear and hopelessness.