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United Methodist Church on front line of AIDS crisis

 


 

Nov. 19, 2004                             

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

Mozambique is a country losing its future.

A beautiful country bordering the Indian Ocean, Mozambique has a population of 18.8 million. The United Methodist Church is alive and flourishing in every providence with a membership of 160,000 and growing. Unfortunately the HIV/AIDS pandemic is growing faster—1.3 million people are living with the disease.

The life expectancy of an infant born in Mozambique today is 37.1 years--37.8 for males and 36.3 for females.

In 2003, 110,000 people died of AIDS, leaving behind 470,000 orphans.

The latest figures suggest more than 14 percent of all Mozambicans ages 15 to 49 are HIV-positive. Poverty, inadequate health care and the lack of life-saving drugs means a large portion of Mozambique’s population is sick and dying.

A recent report by Mozambique’s Health Ministry estimates more than 200,000 people have reached the stage of the disease where they should start taking anti-retroviral drugs, which prolongs the lives of AIDS sufferers. Only 5,865 are receiving the drugs today.

Mozambique remains one of the poorest countries in the world with 70 percent living below the poverty line. The annual per capita income is $86. Education is a key part of fighting AIDS in Mozambique, yet the country’s literacy rate among people age 15 and older is 47.8 percent.

United Methodist Bishop Joao Somane Machado says the culture of the country must be taken into consideration before any results will be seen. The United Methodist Church is on the front lines of the AIDS crisis in Mozambique with orphanages, clinics, a hospital and education programs.

Contributions to Global HIV/AIDS Program may be sent through a local United Methodist church, annual conference or by mailing a check to: Advance GCFA, P.O. Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068. Write your check out to “Advance GCFA.” Be sure to include Global HIV/AIDS Program, Advance #982345 on the check memo line. Call 1-888-252-6174 to give by credit card. For more information visit the Advance Web site www.gbgm-umc.org/advance.

 

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

 

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