This paper has been written by Sr Vernessa
Cummins, from the Harold Road Congregation
HIV/AIDS is a very emotive subject and raises
differing opinions. From a health perspective,
the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the world
is constantly increasing
and Government statistics show that this is true of the United Kingdom too.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advise
us that strategic planning and finance
must be put in place to contain the disease.
Data obtained from BUPA fact sheets report that the number of people living
with HIV in the UK has increased steadily since the 1980's (firstname.lastname@example.org
- January 2008).
Information from various projects and research shows that the Government needs
to maintain and raise the standards of care and awareness of the people to
keep HIV/AIDS at the top of their health agendas.
There is no room for complacency. HIV/AIDS is real and lives with us. It affects
all ages, class, gender and race; therefore, it is important to acknowledge
its present in our society.
Research indicates that HIV/AIDS is prevalent among homosexual men. However,
more and more women are becoming infected with the virus. These may be caused,
among other things, by having unprotected sex, being raped, prostitution, sharing
infected needles, and by a contaminated blood transfusion or organ transplant.
It is reported in regard to certain cultures that some men are looking for
partners of a younger age group with the belief that they will be protected.
can have serious repercussions, especially when these women become infected.
Some countries of the Caribbean are highlighting the need for couples as well
as single people to get tested as part of their HIV/AIDS health education.
It is very important for those who presume they may be at risk to be tested,
early detection can enable a more effective treatment regime to be put in place.
There is currently no cure for the virus but early treatment can significantly
reduce the replication of the virus, thus allowing people to live a near normal
It is alarming to note in the United Kingdom that among expectant mothers admitted
to our maternity services, a high rate of those tested for HIV/AIDS, were infected.
The UK as a whole has seen an increase in HIV/AIDS in pregnant women.. This
can in part be attributed to both the greater freedom to travel and the influx
people coming to Britain who are already infected with the disease.
More cases are diagnosed and treated in London than anywhere else. In fact,
fifty per cent of all the people accessing HIV care services in the UK during
were in London (www.hpa.org.uk - January 2008)
Since the first World Aids Day in December 1988, when the WHO called on everyone
to join the worldwide effort to eradicate AIDS, the epidemic has globalised,
with America having the highest recorded cases. Over half of today's latest
figures showing women to be living with HIV/AIDS.
Many people are still in ignorance regarding the transmission of the disease
and greater awareness is needed to improve this. There is still a long way
to go before barriers over stigmatizing and stereotyping sufferers can be broken
down, and we can all live without the prejudices which may hinder understanding
and the enrichment
of the lives of these sufferers.
In my community, various avenues have opened for information where help and
advice is available. These include free testing, free condoms, advocacy and
partnerships. One interesting example is a young people's sexual health service
called SHINE, a project run by the West African Health Initiative (WAHI).
Information can be obtain from GP's and at local surgeries, libraries, health
centres and through leaflets and posters. It is hoped that this can reach and
educate our community concerning the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
1) How can we best influence society to create an awareness of HIV/AIDS?
2) How can we reduce stereotyping and stigma associated with the disease?
3) What would you consider an appropriate Christian response?
Terence Higgins Trust NAM
0845 1221 220
020 7840 0050
1. Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, October 2007
2. BUPA - Fact sheet - January 2008
3. DHIVERSE. Facts and figures on new diagnoses,
4. UNAIDS - a)
Report on Global
b) World AIDS Day message, December 2007