|Ethiopian Icon of St. George|
Today is World AIDS Day, which, since 1988 has been an annual opportunity to remember with love the 35 million people who have died from AIDS or AIDS related illnesses since the beginning of the epidemic. It is also a day to call to mind the estimated 36.7 people around the world (including 1.8 million children), who are living with HIV worldwide. In his message for World AIDS Day, Pope Francis called on people around the world to pray for all those living with HIV and for their families. He called on Christians and people of good will to work together to promote solidarity with those suffering from HIV and AIDS so that "the poor can benefit from adequate diagnosis and treatment."
Due to the development of retro-viral drugs, a diagnosis of HIV is no longer a necessarily terminal diagnosis. However, only about half of the millions of people living with this illness (particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia) have access in 2016 to life-saving therapies.
The United Nations, the World Health Organization and many governmental, charitable and grassroots organizations continue to work tirelessly to both prevent the transmission of HIV and treat those infected with the virus. In his message, Pope Francis encouraged those efforts, saying, :I appeal to all to act in a responsible way in order to prevent the further spread of this disease."
Health care in the developing world is one of the top three priorities of Catholic Relief Services, which has been a leader in developing ways with its partners to make retro-viral treatment available to those infected with HIV, especially in Africa.
This short animation "They Say It Couldn't Be Done" explains how they developed a model for providing retro-viral therapies in Africa, Guyana and Haiti. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3AkvB6Z-GQ
Additional information about the work of CRS with those living with HIV/AIDS can also be found at: http://www.crs.org/our-work-overseas/program-areas/hiv-and-tuberculosis