Today, all churches are living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. As God’s grace holds inclusive love for all humanity, we are compelled to work together to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was discovered in 1981.Since 1981, approximately 60 million people have been infected with HIV/AIDS, and over 20 million have died of AIDS. As a result of poverty, conflict, violence against women and girls, a lack of appropriate education, high-risk behavior, gender inequality and a number of other socioeconomic factors, people living in the least developed regions, such as many countries in Africa, are most adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Southern Africa has been particularly devastated, where the virus has infected more than one-third of the populations in Botswana and Swaziland, and one-fourth of the population in Lesotho and Zimbabwe. The disease wipes out the most productive sector of society, undermining economic development efforts and exacerbating preexisting problems.

Two thirds of all people living with the virus are in sub-Saharan Africa, where 77 per cent of all new infections are among women and young girls. In addition, HIV/AIDS has orphaned more than 12 million children in Africa, a number likely to more than double by 2020 if current trends continue.

If more resources are dedicated to research on effective treatments of the virus, coupled with attacking the problems that prevent African countries from developing the capacity to handle the disease effectively, the pandemic can be stopped. As such, efforts to drop international debt, favor poor countries in trade agreements, and encourage good governance are central to the future of Africa.