December 1, 2018
Today marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, and Presbyterians are encouraged to participate as part of Presbyterian HIV/AIDS Awareness. This year’s theme is “Know your status.”
“Jesus mandated us to care for the sick and love one another,” said Ann Jones, Presbyterian AIDS Network (PAN) co-moderator. “AIDS awareness is so important because there are still many barriers to wholeness.”
Jones recommends incorporating a liturgy, prayers and music that reflect compassion and justice for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS in your congregation’s worship service. Other suggestions include holding a community-wide AIDS Awareness Day and HIV testing, setting up a display about AIDS at your local library and tying red ribbons around downtown poles and trees.
“Barriers must be broken to reduce stigma and update laws and provide people with adequate treatment,” Jones said. “In the U.S., less than half of those infected now receive proper treatment. We must advocate for adequate funding and support AIDS [prevention] work both locally and globally.”
For years, PAN has been working to encourage congregations to show compassion to people in their communities infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. A mission toolkit is available for PC(USA) congregations interested in responding to the call. Pastors, mission and outreach committees, sessions, youth group leaders and Christian education teachers can use these resources to better understand HIV/AIDS, find out how to support people who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, and see why they should act locally and internationally to prevent the resurgence of infections.
Elizabeth Turk, a mission co-worker who serves at the invitation of the Church for Jesus Christ in Madagascar, said there used to be “a lot of energy behind fighting AIDS,” but not anymore.
“For many nations in Africa and elsewhere, it is still a major crisis,” Turk said. “Many people do not have access to care and treatment. For the people living with AIDS and those actively fighting its impact, AIDS is not something they can forget. It is an everyday reality. By responding with prayer and support, congregations do their part to help end the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
According to 2017 data from the World Health Organization, HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. More than 35 million people have died from the disease and approximately 36.9 million people are currently living with HIV.
Stephanie Caudill, Mission Associate for Resources and Promotion, Equipping for Mission Involvement, Presbyterian World Mission
Today’s Focus: World AIDS Day, Presbyterian HIV/AIDS Awareness
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
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.