The following article was published in the November-December 2022 issue of NewsNotes.
World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year around the world. It is an opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have died, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention service.
Sign up for a one-hour time slot during the 24-hour vigil at http://maryknollogc.org/aids-day-vigil
Data from UNAIDS on the global HIV response reveals that during the last two years of COVID-19 and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result.
Four decades into the HIV response, inequalities still persist for the most basic services like testing, treatment, and prevention, and even more so for new technologies.
That is why the theme for World AIDS Day 2022 is “Equalize.”
The “Equalize” slogan is a call to action. It is a prompt for all of us to work for the proven practical actions needed to address inequalities and help end AIDS. These include:
- Increase availability, quality and suitability of services, for HIV treatment, testing and prevention, so that everyone is well-served.
- Reform laws, policies and practices to tackle the stigma and exclusion faced by people living with HIV and by key and marginalized populations, so that everyone is shown respect and is welcomed.
- Ensure the sharing of technology to enable equal access to the best HIV science, between communities and between the Global South and North.
- Communities will be able to make use of and adapt the “Equalize” message to highlight the particular inequalities they face and to press for the actions needed to address them.
Even today, HIV-positive children face obstacles and adolescents living with HIV face a higher propensity toward suicide. At the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal in July, Maryknoll Fr. Rick Bauer stressed “stigma and discrimination are sins; Christians are called to embrace a theology of hospitality.”
Sami Scott, a Maryknoll lay missioner, says this about responding to the needs of those impacted by HIV and AIDS: “I believe it is our call as people of faith to not only seek out the sick and marginalized, whether it is physically, mentally, or spiritually, but to help heal them.”
“Maybe we cannot completely heal them, but we can give them life, value, and dignity.”§
God of all compassion,
Comfort your sons and daughters
Who live with HIV.
Spread over us all your quilt of mercy,
Love and peace.
Open our eyes to your presence
Reflected in their faces.
Open our ears to your truth
Echoing in their hearts.
Give us the strength
To weep with the grieving,
To walk with the lonely,
To stand with the depressed.
May our love mirror your love
For those who live in fear,
Who live under stress and
Who suffer rejection.
Mothering, fathering God
Grant rest to those who have died
And hope to all who live with HIV.
God of life, help us to find the cure now
And help us to build a world in which
No one dies alone and where
Everyone lives accepted
Wanted and loved.
Faith in action:
- Learn more about World AIDS Day - www.worldaidsday.org/
- Join the World AIDS Day prayer vigil on December: Sign up for an hour timeslot during the 24-hour vigil - www.maryknollogc.org/aids-day-vigil
- Pray with the Maryknoll AIDS Task Force prayer - bit.ly/MaryknollAIDSprayer
Photo the World AIDS Day logo, available on their website