HIV and AIDS
AIDS is one of the largest and most complex threats to human health the world has ever known. Great stigma compounds already tragic physical consequences. And in the developing world, poverty itself is both a cause and an effect of a pandemic that is devastating the physical, social and economic health of entire regions.
People around the world continue to suffer and die from this disease, which often robs them of family, social networks and ways to make a living. Young women bear the greatest risk of infection and burden of caring for the ill. But many people have found ways to live with dignity despite their HIV-status, and CRS works to replicate that success.
In 25 years, HIV has infected more than 65 million people. The majority of those suffering live in Africa, but the pandemic is quickly spreading in many countries throughout Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia. By 2010, it is estimated that 80 million people will be infected and 25 million children will have been orphaned. HIV and AIDS disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable, and limited resources often prevent poor communities from supporting the millions who suffer.
Moved by compassion, Catholic Relief Services initiated our first HIV and AIDS project in 1989 in Masaka, Uganda. We now have AIDS programming in 62 countries across Africa and the hardest-hit regions of Asia and Latin America. We operate more than 280 HIV and AIDS projects in the poorest and most vulnerable areas of the developing world, with an expenditure of over $170 million in 2009 alone. In partnership with other faith-based and non-governmental organizations, CRS directly supports more than 4.8 million people affected by the epidemic.
CRS programming in HIV and AIDS has evolved to help individuals, families and communities as they struggle through the physical, economic, social and emotional devastation of the disease. By working with local partners — including Catholic, governmental, and other faith-based and private organizations — we empower people and communities to stem the tide of the pandemic.