December 1, 2023
During the past two years of Covid and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk and millions of lives are at risk as a result. This year, UNAIDS is challenging us to tackle the inequalities and inequities in HIV prevention and treatment. Inequity exists between countries and within countries. In Madagascar, only 15% of those infected with HIV know their status, while in the U.S.A., 87% of those infected know their status. Both countries are striving to reach at-risk populations.
The Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM), the PC(USA)’s partner church, sees tackling the HIV problem as an important part of what it means to serve God. One of Madagascar’s goals is to decrease the mother-to-child transmission of HIV. If pregnant women get tested for HIV and those who test positive for HIV take anti-retroviral medication (ART), then the rate of transmission to newborns can be drastically reduced. However, in Madagascar, less than half of pregnant women seek prenatal care from midwives or doctors. As a result, Madagascar has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality and continued maternal transmission of HIV to newborns.
This year, the FJKM is highlighting the need for pregnant women to seek prenatal care and get tested for HIV and to take ART if they test positive for HIV. It included training sessions on this at the biannual pastors’ continuing education this past August and at two events of the Dorkasy, FJKM’s Women of the Church branch. Over 1,300 pastors and 3,000 women were trained. Congregations are being challenged to share “five minutes on health” during worship services and highlight the need for prenatal care and treatment for pregnant women with HIV. Free HIV testing is being offered at special church events and celebrations. The PC(USA) has supported FJKM in many of these training and testing events.
To learn about the ways your congregation can help raise HIV awareness and address the problem in the U.S.A. and around the world, visit pcusa.org/toolkits/hiv-aids.
Elizabeth Turk, MPH, BSN, PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker serving in Madagascar
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian HIV Awareness Day
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray
God of Life, we pray for those in our community and around the world who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. We pray that our church may be a place of compassion and protection for those in desperate need of healing. Amen.
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