Mission Column Week of May 3, 2017
MCA helps the Church provide AIDS relief globally
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus which causes the disease AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). HIV damages the body's defense system by disabling certain types of white blood cells that fight infection. While there is still no cure it is possible to be infected with HIV and never develop AIDS due to many medical advances. In spite of these advances many people are still suffering and dying from HIV/AIDS most especially in poor and developing countries.
Nearly 37 million people worldwide are now living with HIV. 2.6 million are under the age of 15. 2.1 million adolescents (10-19 years) were living with HIV in 2013, more than 80% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa, and many of whom still do not know their HIV status. Globally, 17.7 million children (0-17years) have lost one or both parents to AIDS; the vast majority of these deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. This number is expected to remain fairly constant over the next few years.
The Church’s Response
The Catholic Church is the largest provider of care to HIV/AIDS patients in the world. The United Nations reports that as of 2013 Catholic Church related organizations provide approximately a quarter of all HIV treatment, care, and support throughout the world and run more than 5,000 hospitals, 18,000 dispensaries, and 9,000 orphanages, many involved in AIDS-related activities. In fact, the Catholic Church has launched initiatives against the pandemic in 62 countries throughout the world - 28 in Africa, 9 in America, 6 in Asia, 16 in Europe and 3 in Oceania. The Church and her missionaries offer wide-ranging services for those affected by HIV/AIDS including awareness and education programs, counseling and spiritual support, nutrition centers, orphanages, hospital treatment, and home and prison care. Most importantly, through the witness of missionaries and local priests, religious, and lay catechists, people in the Missions who suffer from HIV/AIDS learn about Jesus’ great love for them.
**This article is provided by the Pontifical Mission Society’s interactive app experience, Mission found at www.missio.org Source: amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
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