Special to the Advocate
Sharon Thomas, vivacious and funny, appears to be the picture of health. You might not think of her contagious smile when you put a face on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
But there she is, living with AIDS for 18 years.
“We’re not all 60-pound skeletal people anymore – not in the
Thomas is one of 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS across the
The 40 million across the globe living with the HIV/AIDS virus, the majority in sub-Saharan
In 2004, the General Conference created the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund with the goal of raising $8 million, or $1 per United Methodist in the
Thomas, the vice chair of the board of directors of the West Ohio AIDS Ministries Committee, was one of more than 150 United Methodists from all over the United States who attended the Lighten the Burden global AIDS conference in Washington, D.C., in September.
Lighten the Burden, the first conference of its kind in more than 20 years, was sponsored by the Global AIDS Fund, Board of Global Ministries and Board of Church and Society.
Dr. Cherian Thomas of the Global Ministries’ health and welfare unit told the conference attendees that the HIV/AIDS disease can be compared to “a forest fire that is blazing.”
“Our immediate response is to put the fire out, but sometimes we cannot douse the fire,” he said.
Thomas detailed four interventions – prevention, treatment, care and support – to battle the flames of what the United Nations has called a “global emergency.”
“If you really want to fight a forest fire, you have to have forest fighters trained, an organizational structure in place and a system that prevents the fire,” said Thomas. He lifted up the revitalized United Methodist hospitals in Asia and
In particular, Thomas praised the
“The poor, they die twice,” said Bishop Machado. “They die because of the HIV/AIDS disease. They die because when you give them the medicines, they don’t have the food to balance the diet.”
Most people in
“We need United Methodists to pray, speak out in their local churches and wherever their ministries take them, and do something in support of HIV/AIDS ministries,” said the Rev. Don Messer, a retired theological school president and a member of the Global AIDS Fund’s board of directors.
What you can do
Compiled from UMNS stories by Mary Beth Coudal and Erik Alsgaard and information from the General Board of Church and Society.