Compassion International Expands AIDS Assistance to Children

By August 4, 2004

International (MNN/CI) — Compassion International , one of the world’s largest child development organizations, is significantly increasing its help to children infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. The ministry intends to triple the amount of money it spends over the next three years, making new drugs available to infected children and providing a wide range of services to support children severely affected by AIDS.

All assistance will go through churches on the front lines to combat the worst pandemic this century. The goal is to see as many of these innocent young people come to Christ.

The program, which has been in the pilot phase in Kenya and Uganda for the past year, will officially launch across all Compassion’s programs in Africa over the next year, said Dr. Wess Stafford, Compassion International’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

“HIV/AIDS intervention is an ongoing, natural extension of Compassion’s mission to provide health-related benefits to all Compassion-assisted children,” Dr. Stafford says.

World health experts warn the problem is only growing. There are nearly 11 million AIDS orphans in Africa, and in sub-Saharan Africa, 42 million people are HIV positive. Two and a half million Africans will die this year from disease.

While Compassion has always provided medical help to the 600,000 children in its program, the latest addition calls for the use of antiretroviral drugs — medicines that can extend the life and quality of life for a child.

“The price on these drugs has now dropped to a level where it is conceivable that we could afford to provide them for all the children in our program who need them,” Stafford said. “However, the challenge is daunting and we need people to get involved.” He said that Compassion has designated a special HIV/AIDS fund (www.compassion.com/contribution/default) where anyone can contribute to this important effort.

The drugs are only one component of a wide-ranging program Compassion has implemented in countries, especially in Africa, where HIV/AIDS is a problem. The ministry is tripling the amount of money it spends on HIV/AIDS and is working with other non-governmental organizations and governmental agencies to provide prevention education, voluntary counseling and testing, medicines, medical treatment and other services. An additional challenge is providing homes for orphans whose parents have died because of the disease.

Compassion estimates that more than 20,000 children that it assists in Africa are HIV-infected and tens of thousands more have a parent or sibling with the disease.

Compassion International is dedicated to the long-term holistic development of children living in poverty, working with more than 65 denominations and hundreds of indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Since 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than one million children. For information about sponsoring a child, contact Compassion via its web site (www.compassion.com) or by calling (800) 336-7676.

Leave a Reply