Cities and communities all over the world are being asked to dim the lights today, December 1st, to mark World AIDS Day as part of the Light for Rights campaign which focuses on human rights, HIV and AIDS. Significant progress has been made in advancing access to HIV prevention, treatment, support and care over the past ten years. The 2010 Global Update on the AIDS Epidemic by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that in 2009 the pace of new infections had declined by almost 20% compared to 1999, but still outpaces treatment success by two to one.

Today SCN family members around the world are reflecting upon SCN ministries to those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

For nearly two hundred years, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCNs) have dedicated their lives to education, health care, and social work. With an emphasis on simplicity, humility, and charity, SCNs live out the motto Caritas Christi Urgis Nos – The Love of Christ Impels Us.

In the 1980s, the Sisters were among the few organizations reaching out to those with the AIDS infections at a time when little was known about the illness. SCNs were the first in Kentucky to open up their nursing home to AIDS patients — changing the law to make it possible. Today SCN ministries aimed at prevention, treatment, support and counseling have expanded around the world to hospitals and clinics in India, Belize and Botswana. In Mokama, India, SCNs are recognized for being leaders in providing quality care and treatment at the Community Care Centre. This amazing center has dramatically improved the lives and life expectancy of people living with HIV and AIDS in the rural Indian state of Bihar. Nazareth Hospital has been described as a pioneer facility in Bihar, a state which the National Aids Control Organization (NACO) has classified as one of the most “vulnerable” due to its high levels of poverty and migration, low levels of literacy and awareness of HIV and AIDS, human trafficking and an emerging injection drug problem.

Most people living with HIV and AIDS in India often suffer from stigma and social exclusion as well as poor health and nutritional status.

In Belize, SCNs are involved in a daycare that treats young children with the virus. In Belize as well, the number of HIV and AIDS cases is on the rise. SCNs are also working with those infected or affected by HIV and AIDs in Botswana, Africa. Botswana is believed to have one of the highest known rates of the HIV and AIDS infection in the world. An estimated 1 out of every 3 people are currently living with the disease. Ministries include health care, education, pastoral and social services for those infected and affected by AIDS; daycare for those children most in need, including those orphaned by AIDS; and a very active youth ministry. This year, the SCN family celebrated 10 years of ministry in Botswana.

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All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

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Thank you!