New public service advertisments that highlight children orphaned by AIDS aim to spur more Americans to action. But some Christians say that too strong a focus on orphans risks overlooking how their parents became infected.
The U.N. Foundation previewed the "Apathy Is Lethal" campaign of television, radio, and print ads at the Barcelona XIV International AIDS Conference in July. The spots compare the 14 million children currently orphaned by AIDS with the equal number of children in the United States under age 5. The foundation administers Ted Turner's 1998 gift of $1 billion to the United Nations.
But Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, South Africa, thinks people should focus on the attitudes associated with the deadly disease. "Our greatest challenge is stigma," he says. "Stigma makes people afraid to talk about AIDS, makes those who are suffering into outcasts, and prevents people from wanting to know their status." Southern Africa, which Ndungane oversees as an archbishop, has 28 million cases of AIDS—or 70 percent of AIDS cases worldwide.
Stigma has contributed to a crisis that continues to worsen. UNAIDS, the joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS, projects that without drastically expanded prevention and treatment efforts, 68 million more people will die of AIDS by 2020. Of the 40 million currently infected men, women, and children, 95 percent are in the developing world. While some promising programs exist that encourage young people to delay sex until marriage, people aged 15 to 24 account for half of the 15,000 new hiv infections daily.
Despite the horrific statistics, a 2001 World Vision survey revealed that evangelical Christians may be unconcerned about AIDS in other countries. They were significantly ...1