InterVarsity Makes AIDS a Priority Issue for Urbana 06

The United Nations reports that nearly forty million people in the world are infected with HIV/AIDS. In some countries in southern Africa, one third of the population is infected. In light of this suffering, InterVarsity will offer an AIDS track at Urbana 06, the student missions convention to be held in St Louis, Missouri, USA, 27-31 December 2006.

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ABC Program an important response to AIDS epidemic

The track will be led by Dr. James Thomas, director of the Program in Public Health Ethics at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill (US). The leadership team includes Emmanuel Katongole, associate professor at Duke Divinity School and Grace Tazelaar, missions director for Nurses Christian Fellowship.

Dr. Thomas and Dr. Katongole have developed a program outline that includes medical and historical background about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a response Christians may make individually and through their church. Participants will look at the AIDS epidemic as a means of fostering mercy, compassion, justice, reconciliation, humility and unity, characteristics that God desires for his church. Drs. Thomas and Katongole understand that AIDS offers American churches an opportunity to relearn biblical views concerning sexuality, the role of women in society and racial reconciliation. Track participants will be encouraged to approach the suffering of their brothers and sisters with humility, sensitivity and God’s love.

Grace Tazelaar brings a rich background in AIDS work to the Urbana 06 track. In the late 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic was first evident in Africa, Tazelaar was working as a public health nurse in Uganda. She was invited by government officials to help develop a response to the illness and the result of their work was the well-known ABC program, which emphasizes abstaining from sex outside marriage, being faithful to your spouse, and using a condom. However, Tazelaar is convinced that even a successful program like ABC is not the only solution and that the war against AIDS is a spiritual battle. When advances are made against this disease, glory should be given to God.

The Urbana 06 AIDS track will emphasize that there are no quick fixes to solving the problem of AIDS. But we can learn, pray and act to support those who are suffering. For more information on Urbana 06, visit www.urbana.org/_u2006.cfm.


Kristine Whitnable is a writer for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. She also teaches medical ethics and theology as an adjunct professor for Marian College, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA.