AIDS deaths down

By August 1, 2008

Zambia (MNN) — Approximately 2 million people died from AIDS in 2007, down
from about 2.2 million deaths in 2005, UNAIDS reported on Tuesday. 

However, Gary Schneider, President and CEO of Every Orphan's
Hope
, warned that the battle is far from over. The report also showed that some 2.7 million people worldwide were newly
infected in 2007, bringing the total number of people infected with AIDS to 33
million. 

"We have seen tremendous progress being made on the fight
against HIV/AIDS, but I think even to applaud those numbers might be a little
bit premature," Schneider said. "We see
that there's still 2 million people a year who are dying from HIV/AIDS, and
the total number of people receiving new infections each year is still
continuing to rise." 

Every Orphan's Hope ministers to orphans impacted by the
AIDS crisis in Zambia,
the home of about a million orphans. It
comes alongside the Zambian church to care for about 400 children on a monthly
basis and to reach a total of several thousand children every year through its
Camp Hope Bible camps. 

"We work through the Christian church in Zambia to bring
awareness to the issue," Schneider explained. "We do outreach ministry through the church, for instance, [at] a Camp
Hope Bible camp. At each one of those
camps, we reach about 300 children not only with the Gospel of Christ but with
the life-saving information of how to prevent HIV/AIDS from entering into their
future." 

Every Orphan's Hope also builds "My Father's House" orphan
homes for orphans who have no extended family to care for them. Each home houses a caretaker widow and eight
orphans. 

The purpose of the homes, Schneider said, is to "create a
new Christian family that hopefully they can minister to one another and
protect each other in that home,. The local church provides oversight." 

The local church plays a crucial role not only in the orphan
homes but also in the child sponsorship program. Every Orphan's Hope ensures that children
being cared for by extended family members have access to educational
opportunities and plenty of nutritious food. 

Some of the children the ministry cares for are infected
with HIV/AIDS. Working with the local
church, Every Orphan's Hope does everything it can to make sure these children
take their anti-retroviral drugs. 

"Many times their caretakers are not in the household on a
daily basis, and they may be left alone at times for days upon end," Schneider
explained. "If they don't have access to
their drugs or are not taking them properly, just the slightest variation in
that regimen can put them at risk to having that disease overcome the
preventative drugs and continue to, ultimately, take their life."

The church around the world can help Zambian orphans by
praying for the Zambian church "that God would stir their hearts to have
compassion toward these children, because they're the future of the church in
the nations," Schneider said. Christians
can also help by sponsoring orphans or orphan homes.

Ultimately, however, Schneider believes that what orphans
need most is the hope of the Gospel. 

"We can feed people, we can clothe them, we can provide
shelter and even healthcare," he said. "But at the end of the day, if they don't have
a reason to live and a belief that there's a purpose for their life, then all
the prevention in the world can really fall on deaf ears. So we do believe the best solution is a
personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the hope that comes from that."

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