Church of Scotland urges World AIDS Day response

By agency reporter
November 29, 2013

The Church of Scotland is encouraging worshippers to support World AIDS Day this Sunday and join the fight against one of the world’s most deadly diseases.

World AIDS Day is marked annually on 1 December. For Christians, this is also the first Sunday in Advent, and this year the Church of Scotland HIV Programme has prepared a special Advent/World AIDS Day service for churches to use on the day around the country.

The Rev Dr Robin Hill, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s HIV Programme Committee commented: “World AIDS Day is a very important date in the calendar as it helps focus global attention on the continuing issues thrown up by HIV in our world.

“We in the Church of Scotland HIV Programme hope that our special service for Sunday 1st December will be a point of reflection and prayer for congregations across the land, as they seek to take HIV seriously at home and overseas.”

A new hanging advent calendar is also available; made up of 24 cards; each day focuses on some aspect of Christmas or one of the HIV projects supported by the Church around the world.

The cards, which are designed to be a colourful decoration for churches and homes, invite the owner of the calendar to make a contribution each day and send the total amount raised to the HIV Programme.

World AIDS Day first began in 1988 with the goal of giving people worldwide an opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV. The idea was to allow people to show their support for those living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from HIV- or AIDS- related illnesses.

The Church of Scotland supports several projects overseas, run by partner churches, which aim to tackle the problem of HIV and AIDS. Maria Silo, a Malawian who is herself living with HIV, visited Scotland in conjunction with the Kirk earlier this year to share her story.

Thanks to antiretroviral medication she is able to live a healthy and positive life, and is working with the team at Ekwendeni Hospital AIDS Project to training volunteers and facilitate support groups for others living with HIV.

There are estimated to be over 35 million people today living with HIV across the world. Two-thirds of those affected are in sub-Saharan Africa; while there is evidence that because of improved education and treatment, fewer people are dying each year, there were still 1.6 million deaths across the globe in 2012, and over 2 million new infections. Much remains to be done to stop the spread of the virus.

In the UK, over 100,000 people are living with HIV, 5,000 of whom are in Scotland. Around one person a day is diagnosed with HIV in Britain alone, with estimates suggesting that almost a quarter of those who are infected with HIV are not aware that they are living with the disease.

The Church is also promoting the ‘know the basics’ quiz which has been created by HIV Scotland to educate more people about the facts surrounding HIV and AIDS, in the hope that the information will remove some of the stigma around the issue.

The Church of Scotland HIV Programme also supports local organisations like Waverley Care and Positive Help.

[Ekk/3]

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