AIDS Alert

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46 million people in the world are infected with HIV. The numbers are beyond comprehension. Ever harder to understand is the pain and poverty AIDS leaves in its relentless path. Kim Riemland reports how members of the religious community are calling on their colleagues to lead the fight against the devastating disease.

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Every 15 seconds, another child becomes an orphan because of AIDS. Worldwide, more than 14 million children have lost a mother, father…or both.  Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit.

The Rev. Donald Messer: “I am suggesting and arguing that God is calling us as a people to respond to this Kairos moment in history.”

United Methodist Reverend Donald Messer has just written a book about the Christian Church’s response to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. He is among several who are urging their colleagues at this meeting in Pittsburgh to aggressively respond to the crisis with money, resources and political pressure.

The Rev. Donald Messer: “If not now, when? And second, if not us, who? Is this not the work of our denomination? Is this not the response and the responsibility of God’s people – the church, or are we expecting only governments or only other religious groups to act?”

Drama groups in African villages help educate their peers about a topic that was once not talked about at all, but now impossible to ignore.

Messer says he wrote his book to give voice to the voiceless. With 6,500 Africans dying every day, he’s asking for more people to speak up and “step up” to make a difference.


There are predictions of as many as 40 million AIDS orphans by 2010. Of the 30 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa, only 30,000 to 50,000 receive antiviral drugs that help prolong life. That means less than 2 percent of African HIV-infected parents, breadwinners and skilled providers get medicine that could help them stay alive longer to look after their families and contribute to their communities.