The Church is one of the biggest care providers for those who have HIV and AIDS around the world.
As AIDS affects every aspect of a person’s life, the Church takes a holistic approach to the disease, focusing on the physical, intellectual and spiritual needs of the person.
Up to 33 million people were living with HIV in 2007. It is a disease which is particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa, where countries are often poor and services are not always available.
The Church has unprecedented access to people with HIV and AIDS across the world and on a grassroots level. It has a global network of schools, churches, orphanages, hospices, organisations such as Caritas plus an army of faithful who offer their services.
Besides healthcare, it gives counseling to people who have been affected by the illness and offers spiritual guidance to help them face what is possibly one of the toughest challenges of their lives. It also provides the nutritious food which is vital in ensuring antiretroviral treatment is successful.
Other areas the Church works in include educating and informing people about the risk of AIDS and how to prevent it. The Church also focuses its efforts on reducing the stigma and discrimination which often accompanies HIV and AIDS.
Advocacy is a big part of its work. For example, Caritas Internationalis is currently urging governments and pharmaceutical firms to produce child-friendly HIV and AIDS medicines and to improve testing, as many children currently die due to lack of medicines.
All in all, the Church works hard to help people with HIV and AIDS live in hope and, when the time comes, die with dignity.