Today marks the anniversary of World AIDS Day. The USAID estimates that since the epidemic began, over 60 million people have been infected with the disease, and over 25 million lives taken.
One of the most prominant figures fronting the fight against AIDS is U2 frontman, Bono. In 2002, Bono became vocal about the epidemic, embarking on a tour across the American Midwest to recruit churches to join the fight against AIDS in Africa. In Christianity Today’s 2003 feature “Bono’s American Prayer,” (written by Sojo’s own Cathleen Falsani) he articulates the crucial role the church must play in combating the epidemic.
"If the church doesn't respond to this, the church will be made irrelevant. It will look like the way you heard stories about people watching Jews being put on the trains. We will be that generation that watched our African brothers and sisters being put on trains."
Since then, Bono co-founded the anti-poverty advocacy organization ONE through which he has helped to mobilize millions around a vision of ending AIDS in the near future. ONE’s work with PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief) and other programs has brought life-saving medications to nearly 4 million people in Africa, a major increase from the 50,000 with access to these medications in 2002.
Though the fight against AIDS is far from over-- last year, 1.8 million people died from HIV/AIDS and 2.6 million people were newly infected—this year’s World AIDS Day is about celebrating the global movement to end the pandemic. In a New York Times op-ed published today, Bono writes of the “strange bedfellows” that have come together in this fight—“…the gay community, evangelicals, and scruffy student activists” to name a few.
It’s good to know that evangelicals made it onto that list—that we didn’t, as Bono warned in 2002, turn our eyes away from one of the greatest global needs of our times.
During a World AIDS Day speech at George Washington University today, Barack Obama announced plans to increase spending on HIV treatment in the U.S. by $50 million. He also promised to increase access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs for the millions of people in “hardest hit” countries by the end of 2013, according to the BBC. “We’ve gotta keep fighting,” Obama said. “Fight for every person who needs our help today, but also fight for every person who didn’t live to see this moment.”
May Christians around the world continue to fight alongside the global community of individuals, activists, and politicians, to reach a world without AIDS.
Anne Marie Roderick is the editorial assistant at Sojourners.
Joshua Witchger is the online assistant at Sojourners.