World AIDS Day highlights the need for action in the fight against complacency and ignorance

With more than 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS acrossthe world, World AIDS Day is a serious reminder of all that stillneeds to be done to prevent the spread of this disease and improvethe quality of life for those living under its shadow. TheMethodist Church is urging people to support AIDS projects in anyway they can and to continue to pray for a cure, for those infectedand for all those affected, socially, economically or physically byHIV and AIDS.

The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) works with partnerorganisations to combat the spread of AIDS and support those livingwith this disease throughout developing countries. Although largernational and international structures are needed, research hasshown that grass-roots community projects such as these provide themost effective way to raise awareness of the issues involved. TheCommunity Youth Mobilisation (CYM) project in Zambia offers HIVtesting and counselling, as well as community drama and workshopsto challenge attitudes and raise awareness. Speaking about CYM inher home town, Precious Chanda, aged 16, who lost her first childto AIDS, says 'I am very happy that CYM has come to discuss with usreal issues without fear and I believe with such a project mychildren will live longer.'

Africa is well known for its struggles with this disease and theMethodist Church in Southern Africa run a medicinal supply schemecalled the 'Love Box' project. These 'Love Boxes' contain medicalsupplies for treating infections that are associated with HIV/AIDSsuch as pneumonia, diarrhoea, fever and retinitis. When theseinfections are treated, people can continue working and take theirplace as valued members of the community. A gift of just £20 to theMethodist Church Fund for World Mission will purchase one 'LoveBox' that will enhance the quality of life for those suffering withHIV and AIDS.

The spread of HIV/AIDS closer to home is often forgotten orignored, but the fact remains that there are higher incidences ofpeople living with HIV in the UK than ever before. The Revd. StevePenrose, Chaplain to London's HIV community and Director of theLondon Ecumenical Aids Trust says; "The latest figures announcedmake for worrying reading. People still aren't taking the messageof safer sex seriously and drastic measures are needed to makepeople sit up and think. Contracting HIV is preventable andBritain's faith communities have a major responsibility to help getthis message across and support those living with HIV andAIDS".

On Thursday, Steve will be addressing medical staff at thePaediatric HIV Department of St. Mary's Hospital, London, and anecumenical service at St. Thomas' Hospital in the afternoon. Therewill be a multi-faith service at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday 4December, 6:30pm, serving as a time of remembrance and hope sharedby people of many different backgrounds and beliefs.

The G8 pledge to provide AIDS treatment to everyone who needs it by2010 will be a tough one to live up to, and without adequate actionand finance, this target could become a broken promise. TheMethodist Church's Mission Education Department has produced avariety of excellent resources to encourage people to get involvedin any way they can, even though the situation of those living withHIV/AIDS may be far removed from their own. These can be obtainedfree of charge via the Methodist website(www.methodist.org.uk).