May/June 2020
UMGAC Newsletter
Volume 6, Issue 3
Editor: Douglas B. Smith

Bishop Julius Trimble, Chair UMGAC

Word from Bishop Trimble

I’m reminded of what Jesus said to his disciples when he wanted to teach them a lesson on the power of love. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39, ESV.

In these days of isolation from family and friends, we need to claim over and over again the importance of loving others, and loving God. We also need to be gentle with ourselves.

How is it with your soul?
With what might you be struggling?
Where are you finding joy?

Let us think on these things hoping to find peace and sustenance for the journey ahead. We extend the love of God to each of you and thank you for embracing and extending that love to people who may be feeling unlovable.

Be encouraged,
Bishop Julius C. Trimble

Saving Lives Through Education and Advocacy:
 What are we learning?

Since the inception of the UMC Global AIDS Fund/Committee, we have committed to making the world a better place through the provision of HIV & AIDS education and advocacy.

This quadrennium (2016-2020), UMGAC has sponsored three major events that have impacted hundreds of people around the world. Here are some things we have learned.

Learnings

  • Having Episcopal leadership who is concerned about HIV & AIDS increases the import and visibility of the issue.
  • Bringing people together for education & advocacy strengthens the faith’s community’s response to this pandemic.
  • The infection rate worldwide remains significant with little decrease - existing more widely in developing nations where poverty, lack of education and access to health care are more prevalent.
  • People are eager to share what they learn with others.
  • UMGAC needs to focus intentionally on those populations most impacted by HIV & AIDS and challenge the realities of racism, sexism, classicism, homophobia and heterosexism that exist.
  • Testimonies under-scored the value of faith-based initiatives on HIV & AIDS through the offering of spiritual and emotional support.
  • Aggressive testing and treatment can result in newborns surviving if their mom is HIV+.
  • Social determinants driving stigma and discrimination prevent people from being tested and maintaining treatment.

 

HIV/AIDS Global Conferences Sponsored by UMGAC
(2016-2020)


2017 AIDS Summit-Philippines  
The Conference focused on how the church can be a positive partner in promoting HIV and AIDS education, prevention, care and treatment in the Philippines. Seventy-five persons attended including youth & young adults, health professionals, medical doctors, community members, United Methodist Women and women living with HIV.

2018 Breaking Barriers AIDS Conference United States
People of faith, health care professionals, advocates, community leaders, volunteers and people living with HIV gathered to discuss strategies for saving lives and increasing awareness. Eighteen workshops, four panels, a Bible study and two keynote addresses tackled the topic of HIV/AIDS.

2019 West Africa Summit Participants from Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone met in Abidjan, Cȏte d’Ivorie to explore ways to strengthen HIV & AIDS ministries and eradicate stigma.

Read More

All these events were made possible through grants from the UMC Connectional Table for which we were extremely grateful.

The Global AIDS Fund Advance is administered by the General Board of Global Ministries. Your contribution is tax deductible and 100% goes directly to AIDS related projects.

Donate

HIV & AIDS and the COVID-19 Pandemic

More and more news stories about the links between COVID-19 and HIV & AIDS have been published since the pandemic reared its head. Below are three stories that might be of interest:

How COVID-19 Could Cause an Extra 673,000 AIDS Deaths?
www.poz.com
Mathematical models show that HIV gains in sub-Saharan Africa could be lost, say UNAIDS and WHO. READ MORE

Why Are Black Communities Hit Hardest by COVID-19? www.poz.com
Crowded households and lack of insurance contribute to a greater risk of coronavirus cases and deaths in predominantly Black counties. READ MORE

New COVID-19 CDC Resources on PrEP and Liver Disease
We continue to update COVID-19 and People with HIV, our HIV.gov page of resources from agencies across the federal government. We recently added two resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that are relevant for people with and at risk for HIV. READ MORE

United Methodist Health Board section marches in the parade, World AIDS Day 2019, Kitwe, Zambia. Photo: Courtesy Zambia UM Health Board

NO LONGER A GENERATION OF ANGUISH BUT A GENERATION OF HOPE!

Posted on February 12, 2020 | by Kathy Griffith
Ending the AIDS pandemic is a collective responsibility. It is a life-saving ministry and movement in which the church plays a vital part. There are eight projects under the Abundant Health banner that have leading roles in reaching young people who are least aware, most at risk, and perhaps most afraid of stigma

The United Methodist Church’s Health Board in Zambia joined local partners in Kitwe, and the rest of the world, to organize and commemorate World AIDS Day 2019 in December. It was themed “Communities making a difference, pressing toward ending AIDS.” .

The United Methodist Health Board trained 74 young people as Peer Educators. They are starting to reach out to their friends at school, college and university, establishing clubs and communicating through drama, song and radio, urging everyone to know their status and to treat each other with dignity. The health board is the only organization there reaching out to adolescents.

Read More

National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Addresses HIV

United Methodist leaders and youth are among those collaborating on ways to stop the “ugly and alarming” rise in HIV cases in the Philippines. HIV and AIDS is a national emergency in the country, said Wilfredo C. Ramos, a United Methodist and dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Medical Sciences at United Methodist-related Wesleyan University-Philippines. AT an HIV and AIDS forum, Ramos stated:

“HIV cases in the Philippines have increased by 174% in the past eight years and (the number) is still growing,” Ramos said. “The numbers and are quite ugly and very alarming.”

The Rev. Donald E. Messer, executive director and founder of the Center for Health and Hope and member of UMGAC, addressed the forum and shared five ways to end the epidemic in the Philippines, including tackling cultural and church taboos and encouraging volunteer counseling, testing and treatment.


John Mark Santiago, former student governor of the College of Education local council at Wesleyan University-Philippines, signs paperwork to have his blood tested at an HIV and AIDS education and prevention forum at the university in Cabanatuan City, Philippines, on Oct. 30. Photo by Jon Balagan

Read More

 

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

By Gladys P. Mangiduyos
Jennnifer Ferrariza-Meneses, a United Methodist executive of the Philippines Board of Women's Work delivered her greetings and call at this event, May 2020 as she expressed her utmost respect to all people living with HIV as they are symbols of hope and fortitude as they continue to deal with their daily struggles - violence, injustices, discrimination and oppression.

"For the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia at Transphobia, this is the day that our God of all peoples has made! Today, we rejoice diversity, inclusivity, sexuality and human dignity! We reject fear, hate, stigma and discrimination. Thank you for your faith and courage to challenge the unjust systems and structures and the suppressive norms and behavior of the church and society."

 

Real More

International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

By Kathy Griffith
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines asked Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana, Global Ministries’ Area Liaison for Asia and the Pacific to give solidarity greetings at their International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, May 17, 2020, via Zoom. She shared these moving words and I thought you would like to read them.

“Today, we hold on to the power of remembering, the power of memory. Global Ministries expresses our solidarity as we remember those who have fallen without seeing the dawn of the day where HIV and AIDS is just a thing of the past. We remember them in their pains, struggles and sufferings; We remember them in their strength, resilience and courage; We remember them and their loved ones; those who stood by them until their last breath; Those who showered them with their love, care and protection until the end. We honor them: our sisters, brothers, friends, relatives and dearly beloved. We light a candle so that we will always remember.“ …Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana,

The journey is and will be long. Before COVID 19, our hands are full of various responses as we faced the very alarming and fast increase in the number of HIV cases.

Read More

Nourishment for the Soul

Where is God calling us in terms of how we are to treat those living with HIV or AIDS?

Dr. Caroline Njuki, a former member of UMGAC and the current President of the Africa Leadership Initiative, has served as an HIV/AIDS educator in Uganda for years.  Most recently she has been a trainer on mission trips sponsored by WorldHope Corps.

Enjoy the video from GBGM: A Look at HIV and AIDS with Caroline Njuki

Theresa’s Story
 A Story for Reflection
provided by Abundant Health

Theresa is an 18-year-old high school student in Freetown, Sierra Leone, who began to miss classes because of a recurring fever, headaches, and overwhelming tiredness. She could hardly get up. The doctors treated her for different conditions, but her symptoms only got worse. “They affected my health and my education” she said.

Finally, her worried mother took her to the United Methodist Church’s General Hospital at Kissy for a consultation. The Doctor examiner her and sent her for some laboratory tests, including one for HIV. She was taken to the Friends Unit where the Counselors received her kindly and professionally. She was very frightened as she waited for the results.

“I will never forget October 22 when the results read HIV positive!” she exclaimed. Both mother and daughter burst into tears but were gently counseled and encouraged to accept the outcome and the treatment that lay ahead.

Theresa had not known how she could contract the virus. In fact, she had never believed in its existence. Now she understood that by not using condoms consistently and by not knowing the HIV status of her partner, she had been at risk for a long time.

She started her Anti-Retroviral Treatment which has greatly improved her health and outlook. Her CD4 count is encouraging. Soon the virus within her will be undetectable and untransmissible. She has gone back to school and to her everyday life. She and her mother are so thankful for these kind interventions that have saved her life.


The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee...

Faithfully works to engage annual conferences and local churches in HIV/AIDS education and advocacy and loving and compassionate outreach by raising awareness and providing faith-based resources and training. By doing this, we aim to eliminate deaths from HIV and AIDS, reduce stigma and advocate for and affirm persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS around the world.

umgafund@gmail.com - www.umglobalaidsfund.com
©2018 Global AIDS Committee. All rights reserved.