HIV and the Church

Last month the Presidential Advisory Committee on HIV&AIDS (PACHA) gathered in Washington D.C. to discuss the status of HIV nationally and international. Elizabeth Styffe, Saddleback’s Director of the HIV&AIDS and Orphan Care Initiatives, represents Saddleback Church and the HIV&AIDS Initiative on the Council and is a member of PACHA’s Global Subcommittee.


The Council heard updates from Deborah Birx, M.D., Ambassador-at-Large, who is the US Global AIDS Coordinator & Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy at the Department of State, who noted that although great successes have been realized through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), such results could reverse without a strategic deployment of resources at this critical moment.


Citing “alarming” rates of HIV in young women in sub-Saharan Africa, Ambassador Birx argued that there is a pressing need to shift resources to help young people identify their risk and take action. This is particularly concerning as the high risk population of young people in sub-Saharan Africa is segment of the population that continues to grow.


Ambassador Birx outlined a new strategy for ending the AIDS epidemic globally, by focusing resources in the hardest hit areas. Birx explained that the new strategy focuses on areas with growing numbers of new infections, in an effort to stem the tide where the pandemic is growing. The Global Fund and the World Health Organization have taken a lead role. This includes identifying and treating young men and women with HIV and educating them about prevention. In addition, more innovative funding is needed to mobilize resources in countries that have them.


“Given the data, there is no other choice,” said Ambassador Birx, “We are all going to have to make some hard choices if we are going to change the course of the pandemic globally.”


If you would like more information on how you and your church can make an impact in the fight against HIV&AIDS locally or globally, email us at or call 949-609-8555.

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