Most readers of Wimminwise probably already know that AIDS and its worldwide impact is a women’s issue. Most readers can probably recite the key reasons for that, too. Women are among those affected by AIDS, whether directly as HIV+ and active AIDS individuals, as family members and friends of infected people, or as care-givers and people who work in support roles with people with AIDS. Gender dynamics can make women and girls particularly vulnerable to HIV and AIDS; in some parts of the world, girls show the most rapid increase in new infections, outnumbering new infections in men by 2 to 1. AIDS is one of the forms assumed by violence against women. AIDS disproportionately afflicts women of color in the US and elsewhere, with AIDS being a leading cause of death among young black women. So we know: AIDS is a women’s issue.
We will have an opportunity to focus that knowledge, to worship and to educate ourselves on the issues tomorrow, as LPTS participates in World AIDS Day (December 1). The World AIDS Ecumenical Worship Service will be held at 10 a.m. in Caldwell Chapel. Vanessa Sharp, eminent spokeswoman on HIV/AIDS issues, clergywoman and candidate for ordination in the PC(USA), board member of the Presbyterian AIDS Network, and HIV+ mother of four, will lead a lunch-time workshop on HIV/AIDS and the faith community perspective in the Winn Center, 12:30-2:00. We are looking forward to deepening our understanding and appreciation of what is at stake and how we can be part of the healing of our communities.
Those of us who want to find out more about AIDS and its impact on women as part of our own participation in World AIDS Day, might want to consult sources like the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and the US Department of Health and Human Services. The UN Global Coalition on Women and AIDS maintains a website focused on the increasingly female face of AIDS internationally. The Presbyterian AIDS Network (PAN) offers informational and worship resources around the subject as well as links to other Presbyterian offices working around the issue of AIDS, including resources specific to World AIDS Day. This summer, a women’s summit held in Nairobi issued a 10-point call to action around the issue of AIDS and its relationship to women. A summary of the call to action can be found here, with links to the full text. One example of women’s efforts to organize around the disease is the International Community of Women Living with AIDS, a rich source of information on international activities related to AIDS, and a provider of support for HIV+ women.