HIV/AIDS Programs Support
African Communities

AIDS International Ministry, ADRA teach prevention, provide livelihoods

BY MEGAN BRAUNER, Adventist News Network

OR SOME Seventh-day Adventist organizations the December 1 observance of World AIDS Day lasts all year long.

Eugenia and Oscar Giordano, assistant and executive directors for Adventist AIDS International Ministry (AAIM), helped establish the group in 2003. The couple, both medical doctors, said they felt a need to address the lack of understanding of and support for individuals infected with HIV/AIDS.

“Six years ago our churches in Africa were in almost complete denial on issues about HIV and AIDS,” Oscar Giordano said. “Today, there is no more silence . . . in a great number of our churches in Africa. The more people know about HIV/AIDS, the more they talk and commit themselves for action, the less the virus will continue to spread.”

AAIM covers the East-Central Africa and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Adventist Church divisions. The organization recently expanded to include the West-Central Africa Division (WAD), providing HIV/AIDS sensitivity training for local church leadership, and expects to expand that training throughout the division, Giordano said.

AIDS MINISTRY: Dr. Eugenia Giordano, assistant director of Adventist AIDS International Ministry, visits with Maasai women in Maasailand, Kenya, in 2007.
“According to the data available from church surveys and [World Health Organization] HIV/AIDS-related death rates, we estimate that approximately 500 to 600 Adventist church members are dying from AIDS every month in Africa,” Giordano said.

In 2009 AAIM started an AIDS prevention campaign that will cover most of the continent by 2010, Giordano said.

“The main goal is to make sure that each of the Adventist churches has reliable information on HIV and AIDS as a means of prevention, and that all of our church members have access to it.”

AAIM also provides sewing machines and materials to HIV/AIDS-infected individuals as a means of income and sets up support groups to check on infected individuals in their communities, Giordano said. The support groups, sometimes including doctors, assess the situation and make sure individuals properly follow their treatment procedures, he said.

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, also provides support and awareness for individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.

“Around the world, ADRA offers HIV preventative education programs, HIV/AIDS testing, and counseling services to reduce the impact of AIDS on individuals and families,” said Charles Sandefur, president of ADRA International. “Through these efforts, ADRA expresses its call to biblical social responsibility and considers it a vital task to help eradicate this terrible disease.”

ADRA’s five-part approach to HIV/AIDS includes programs addressing education, prevention, testing, and treatment, ADRA leadership said. One example, the Abstinence and Behavior Change program, provides information and assistance to at-risk youth and young adults in Kenya.

The $12-million project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The project teaches young people about dangers associated with high-risk sexual behavior, including coercive and paid sex, and raises awareness about monogamy and abstinence.

Another ADRA project in Kenya provides school supplies, food, clothes, and vocational training to AIDS orphans.

ADRA also works with child-headed households in Swaziland, which make up 15 percent of the country’s total households. One in three adults in the country are HIV-positive, resulting in a high number of orphans, ADRA workers said. The program sends trained caregivers to the child-headed homes to assess the situation and provide a support network.

For more information about AAIM, click
here. For Information about ADRA’s HIV/AIDS programs can be found here

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