Comments by national American Baptist leaders on the Occasion of the XIX International Aids Conference:
American Baptists celebrate the medical advances that have occurred in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Many of us remember vividly our helplessness in the face of its initial outbreak when thousands were dying with no known treatment available. Yet today, many who are infected with HIV are able to live normal productive lives due to medical advances within the past 30 years. However, we are aware that HIV/AIDS still takes a terrible toll wherever it is rampant, especially in the most impoverished places in the world. In many sub-Saharan countries, life expectancy has precipitously dropped a decade or more. HIV/AIDS also removes men and women from the workforce during what would normally be their most productive years. And, it is estimated that there are 70,000 new AIDS orphans every year with the highest number being in South Africa.
As the body of Christ, we continue to pray for the day when this disease like so many others will yield its secrets to medical science that preventative vaccines might be created and this scourge removed from our midst. In the meantime, mindful of Jesus’ benediction – “Blessed are the merciful” – we commend our churches, missionaries, hospitals, and laity who are actively involved in research, education and healthcare related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
-A. Roy Medley, General Secretary, American Baptist Churches USA
Those of us who believe in wholeness shall not rest until it comes. Just over thirty years ago my uncle was one of the first of three hundred in Los Angeles County to succumb to AIDS. Since then, we have watched it become a worldwide pandemic devastating communities and whole countries.
I take HIV and AIDS personally. I am especially concerned that even now, HIV/AIDS testing and counseling remains underfunded in this country. We stand with and for those who seek wholeness.
-Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins, Executive Director, American Baptist Home Mission Societies
We are deeply grateful for those who are continuing the crucial work of HIV/AIDS research, testing and treatment, and encourage others to also join in the global effort of education and prevention. The combined actions of individuals and groups do indeed make a difference.
-Reid S. Trulson, Executive Director, American Baptist International Ministries
My prayer is that the World Conference on AIDS will bring hope and healing to the 40 million persons in the world today living with HIV/AIDS, including alarming numbers of women who live in cultures that make them susceptible to be carriers of the virus as they bear children.
-Virginia Holmstrom, Executive Director, American Baptist Women’s Ministries
More information on Aids 2012
The International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.
The AIDS 2012 programme will present new scientific knowledge and offer many opportunities for structured dialogue on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. Click here to visit the website (http://aids2012.org/)
Leaders from the worlds of science, diplomacy, politics, philanthropy and entertainment are addressing the thousands of attendees at AIDS 2012, including:
• President Bill Clinton
• U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
• U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
• South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe
• Former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush
• HRH Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway
• World Bank President Jim Yong Kim
• UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé
• Nobel Laureate Françoise Barré-Sinoussi
• NIAID Director Anthony Fauci
• Philanthropist Bill Gates
• Humanitarian Elton John
• Actress Whoopi Goldberg
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.