World AIDS Day: Ending the Negative Impact of HIV-AIDS

This World AIDS Day, Global Ministries joins the fight to end the negative impact of HIV.

By Bella DiFilippo*

HIV and AIDS continue to be a major public health issue in countries around the world. But wherever HIV is spreading, The United Methodist Church is there to provide care for those living with the virus and to address stigma.

Stigma and discrimination weigh heavily on those living with HIV. Through Global Ministries funding support, The United Methodist Church is finding ways to eliminate fears around the virus.

United Methodist Church of Nigeria’s health coordinator, Joyce Madanga, oversees the implementation of MNCH program at the Mutum Biyu Clinic in Nigeria. PHOTO COURTESY OF UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF NIGERIA

Nigeria has the second-largest HIV epidemic in the world, affecting all population groups within the country. In response to the epidemic, The United Methodist Church in Nigeria implements maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) programs in United Methodist health clinics. Pregnant women are encouraged to have prenatal care and to receive testing for HIV and counseling. “There is follow-up through each delivery and postnatal-care checkups for the first two years of a child’s life,” said Joyce Madanga, health coordinator for UMC Nigeria’s MNCH services. Health workers say that as members of the community learn more about HIV and AIDS, fear and stigma are greatly reduced.

“When everyone is being tested, people aren’t so afraid,” said Madanga. “We are training more advocates than ever before,” she said. “Even the husbands are coming to learn their HIV status.”

Mr. Kunda moderates a live radio session at Radio Icengelo, in Zambia. This radio program offers information about HIV and AIDS, answers call-ins who have questions, and encourages listeners to get tested at local clinics. PHOTO COURTESY OF BWAFWANO CARE PROVIDERS

Healthcare organizations in Zambia and the Philippines are also addressing the rapid spread of HIV among children. In Zambia, community health workers provide education on preventing mother-to-child transmission to women who test positive for HIV. By dispelling fears and myths around HIV for pregnant mothers, more women are learning they can give birth to healthy babies, even if they test positive for the virus.

In the Philippines, United Methodist-affiliated Mary Johnston Hospital provides testing and treatment for adolescents in Manila, who have a high risk for contracting HIV. With funding from Global Ministries, these organizations will reach thousands of mothers and children, contributing to The United Methodist Church’s Abundant Health initiative goal to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020.

Global Ministries is committed to the health needs of those living in the margins in the United States as well.

“When we moved to Atlanta, we looked around to see what the community health needs were,” said Sabrina Rodgers, program manager for Global Health’s U.S. Health program. “We found HIV to be a big problem, especially in the same ZIP code where Global Ministries’ headquarters is located.”

In metro-Atlanta, Global Ministries works in partnership with two organizations that actively serve homeless, at-risk youth who identify as gay, bisexual, and transgender, and are at high risk for contracting HIV. Through Global Ministries’ funding support, Someone Cares Inc. and Lost N Found will reach 1,150 homeless youth in the Atlanta area through preventive care, testing, and education.

Global Ministries partners with Lost-N-Found Youth, based in the metro-Atlanta area, to offer free HIV counseling, testing, and referrals to Atlanta’s youth ages 13-25. PHOTO: LOST N FOUND YOUTH

“We felt compelled to respond as a sign of our commitment to the health needs of those living in the margins, not just in the United States, but globally,” said Rodgers. “Our partnership with these organizations counts toward The United Methodist Church’s Abundant Health initiative to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions.”

You can help end the epidemic

Global Ministries works closely with the United Methodist Global AIDS Committee in their efforts to reduce stigma related to HIV. Together, they support projects focused on preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS, improving access to testing and treatment, and increasing capacity building in countries where the virus is prevalent.

Consider donating to Advance #982345 to support Global Ministries and UMGAC’s work around HIV-AIDS. Together, we can end the epidemic.

*Bella DiFilippo is the communications specialist from Mission Engagement for Global Ministries