U.S. Christians ‘Put Aside Judgments’ To Fight International HIV/AIDS
Christians throughout the United States, including evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics, are "putting aside their judgments and fears" to fight international HIV/AIDS, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. According to the Tribune, two main issues complicate the church's response to AIDS: the fact that many people question the church's involvement in fighting a disease that can be spread through sexual contact and injection drug use -- what they consider to be "sinful behavior" -- and the debate over whether it is morally acceptable for such churches to support prevention efforts that teach condom use in addition to abstinence. Still, churches are in a unique position to address the disease, Rev. Leith Anderson of the Wooddale Church in Minnesota said, adding, "This isn't just a billboard or medical issue. It's the whole infrastructure. ... We can minister to people in ways that the (secular and governmental) groups can't. They don't have the social structure to do it. They don't have the churches." Anderson, whose church is part of a five-member consortium dealing with the epidemic, recently met with government officials and leaders from several African nations to discuss methods for combating the disease. Richard Stearns, president of World Vision International, a Christian humanitarian organization, which earlier this month launched a campaign to raise awareness about international HIV/AIDS, said, "We're putting [HIV/AIDS] at the center of all our World Vision programs," adding, "Our organizing principle has to be HIV prevention and care, then we'll build our clean water and housing and education programs around it" (Sawyer Allen, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/19). World Vision's campaign will include Christian concerts, a Washington, D.C., summit and an advertising campaign, and the organization will work with other organizations, including national health offices and local churches, to raise money for the organization's HIV/AIDS education and treatment efforts (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/2). The campaign is targeted at the evangelical Christian community in the hope that it will "reconsider its views" and join the fight against international HIV/AIDS, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville News-Sentinel, 4/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.