15 October 2008

The prez race and poverty and AIDS/HIV


As expected, the debate started on the topic of the economy. Both Obama and McCain reiterated the superiority of their plan. I checked out to do a little research on each candidate's stance on poverty. They both agreed combating HIV/AIDS worldwide should receive more government attention. Obama specifically wants to double annual funding of such projects. McCain supports the President's Plan for AIDS Relief program.
So what's the connection of HIV/AIDS to poverty? To answer I will take a quote from an United Nations document.
Globally, the highest HIV prevalence rates are found in poor countries, but within regions such as Africa, it is not necessarily the poorest countries that have the highest prevalence rates. Nevertheless, poverty increases vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and exacerbates the devastation of the epidemic. Poverty
deprives individuals of the means to cope with HIV/AIDS. The poor often lack the knowledge and awareness that would enable them to protect themselves from the virus, and, once infected, they are less able to gain access to care and life-prolonging treatment.
[Population,Development and HIV/AIDS with Particular Emphasis on Poverty,The Concise Report. 2005. http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/concise2005/PopdevHIVAIDS.pdf ]
The key words here to note are lack and access and in this case lack of knowledge and no access to care and medical treatment. That's probably a bit too simplistic as I am far from having a vast understanding the correlation. I guess poverty can act like a wall in these circumstances.
No doubt it is especially difficult for those children who are orphaned because of death of parents from AIDS. They are the most vulnerable to the deprivations of family, food, and protection.

The Bible exhorts Christians to be concerned about orphans and widows (James 1:27.) Some friends of mine decided to put that charge into action by organizing Reach Out to the Children of Kenya after visiting Kenya on a missions trip in 2004. Initially it helped about 20 AIDS orphans by removing them from an orphanage placing them with families in their communities. Sponsorships for each child helped these families offset the costs of taking in the orphan.

Each year a team returns to interview the orphans and audit the effectiveness of the program. So far it has been successful. In the past year the program has expanded to help widows keep their children and also has helped place orphans displaced by Kenya's election unrest. As of today 76 orphans/children are being sponsored.

Though this program is not necessarily one of the "front line" strategies, I see it as preventative. By giving a child access to education and food and most of all a family, I think they have a better chance of avoiding the AIDS/HIV pitfall. Most of all, by showing someone cares they are giving these children hope.

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