Monday, 24 May 2010

HIV/AIDS Project

The Convener of the HIV/AIDS project group, Dr Robin Hill presented the report. Since 2001 The Church of Scotland has been actively involved in the fight against the spread of AIDS/HIV by offering practical support to local partner churches in geographical areas across African where the pandemic is strongest. The purpose of the HIV/AIDS project is to (1) break the silence on HIV/AIDS (2) stand together with partner churches (3) offer practical support 94) speak up for the voiceless and (5) involve every member of the church. Mr. Hill stated that the global HIV pandemic is at a critical point today and that the current picture differs significantly from the picture 26 years ago. There seems to be a stabilisation of the incidence of HIV infections and there are now more than 33 million people living with HIV according to UNAIDS 2008 data.

Different speakers who had gone to visit HIV projects in Malawi spoke enthusiastically about the incredible generosity of volunteers in that country who not only walk many miles to take care of HIV/AIDS patients, but share money and funds. It was seen that through the work of the project and its partners in Zambia, Sri Lanka and Ghana, that much more awareness about the problems of stigmatizing people with the virus is evident. Mrs Carol Finlay spoke eloquently of the willingness of HIV/AIDS sufferers to speak out and share their experience for the camera. Mrs. Finlay mentioned that this openness however is not universal across Africa and what seems to be the norm in Malawi is not the norm everywhere. She also spoke of the patients’ surprise upon learning that HIV/AISD sufferers in Scotland are not so open about their experience and often feel stigmatised by Scottish society.

Robin Hill spoke about the project’s work in cooperation with The Guild and thanked it for its fundraising efforts on behalf of the project. Finally, Mr. Hill mentioned that on an extremely cold January 10th, when Scotland was facing almost freezing conditions, over 10,000 people braved the weather to attend a Souper Sunday, sharing bread, soup and fellowship in their congregation, all in benefit of the HIV/AIDS project.

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