.- Caritas Australia is providing dignity to people affected by HIV/AIDS by providing food, anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and work opportunities through 15 initiatives in 13 countries.
Caritas Australia is supporting community-based education and action initiatives from Mendi in Papua New Guinea to Mhpunza in Zambia. The aim of these activities is to decrease the stigma attached to HIV, to educate people about the impacts the epidemic is having, and to devise what can be done to support those who are affected.
The Australian Catholic aid organization announced its project just in time to commemorate World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.
The group’s message and “whole-life” approach to AIDS care is: Food + Drugs + Work = Life.
While ARVs can keep people alive, their success depends upon adequate nutrition. Hence, Caritas Australia is providing food. Giving people a dignified life is also dependant upon their ability to support themselves, which is why Caritas Australia’s program offers opportunities to work through training and education.
Several Caritas Australia partners in the developing world are organizing awareness-raising activities in their local communities. In Mendi, for example, there will be a walk to the centre of town to challenge discrimination. In Cambodia, the Rural Development Association is holding a parade with a focus in including children in educational activities.
It is estimated that 40 million people currently live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The majority of those living with HIV (95 percent) reside in developing countries. Caritas Australia believes that with appropriate nutrition, life-saving ARV therapy, and opportunities for work, they could live a dignified life.