Read an interview with Dr. Scott Todd, Director of Compassion's AIDS Initiative, about the AIDS pandemic and its affect on children in poverty.
The statistics are staggering and beyond comprehension. Roughly 40 million people are infected with HIV. Almost 14,000 new infections occur each day — nearly 60 percent of those new victims are children and youth. For them, there is no cure. AIDS killed 570,000 children in 2005 and is poised to claim an even greater number of children this year. Access additional resources and information on the AIDS pandemic.
Need for Medicine
Although there is no cure, there is medicine that can suppress the virus and restore the function of the immune system. People with medicine have been granted years, perhaps decades, of health and vitality. Sadly, 90 percent of those who need the medicine do not have it.
Access for All
The world community is awakening to this epic human tragedy and resources are beginning to move. "Access for all" is a new mantra in the halls of the United Nations. But what is "access"?
Moved by what is viewed primarily as a medical/infrastructure challenge, governments and many major organizations define "access" as getting the pill to the clinic. That means building clinics, training doctors, purchasing and shipping of medicine and so on. But even if the trained doctors didn't immigrate to wealthy nations (and they do) and even if the financial management systems of the governments involved weren't fraught with corruption (but they are), these good things would still not result in true "access."
Those Without Access
Access means having the person who needs the medicine taking the medicine. And even when there is a clinic only five walking minutes away, a 7-year-old girl living in the slum nearby will not truly have access.
Why not? Her mother is dead. She was taken into the care of her auntie, who does not want to accept that her sister died of AIDS and that the niece now in her care is also infected. When the girl suffers from illness she is told that she has tuberculosis. Even if the aunt is aware that the clinic has medicine, perhaps through one of the governments "awareness" campaigns, she has already adopted a fatalistic belief that her niece will die. They don't have money for food let alone medicine. Perhaps she consoles herself with the skeptical perspective that those pills are Western poison anyway.
Who can enter the hurting world of this 7-year-old girl and her aunt? Who can listen to them in their grieving, offer informed counsel, and lift them from their fatalistic thoughts to a world with hope? The hut and the girl in the slum may be a long way from Geneva, a long way from the governing powers, and even a long way from that clinic that is within sight yet out of reach, but that little girl is not a long way from the loving embrace of her Creator whose body is represented within that slum by faithful followers of Christ.
Compassion Steps In
Compassion equips that local church to minister to that little girl. Compassion equips the church with staff, with training and with resources to support whatever is needed to achieve true access for the "least of these."