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 CNS Story:

AIDS-PARISHES Nov-27-2006 (410 words) xxxn

Resources help parishes observe World AIDS Day

By Michelle Martin
Catholic News Service

CHICAGO (CNS) -- The annual observance of World AIDS Day Dec. 1 gives everyone -- from national and international AIDS organizations to community groups, parishes and individuals -- an opportunity to recommit themselves to the fight against AIDS, said Dan Lunney, executive director of the Chicago-based National Catholic AIDS Network.

An estimated 38.6 million people are thought to be living with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes it. According to UNAIDS, 4.1 million people were newly infected in 2006.

"This is an opportunity for us to focus on the important opportunities we have to improve our ministry to our brothers and sisters living with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS," said Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George in a recent conference call aimed at raising awareness about the disease and sharing resources for Catholic parishes to use to observe World AIDS Day.

"It is also an opportunity for us to recognize and to thank those in the church who so actively work to prevent the spread of AIDS and to take care of those living with the virus," he added, quoting the late Pope John Paul II's comment in 1995 that "the battle against AIDS ought to be everyone's battle."

Also participating in the conference call were leaders from the National Catholic AIDS Network, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' secretariats for Hispanic Affairs and African-American Catholics and the Leadership Campaign on AIDS, a program in the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Adm. Kenneth Moritsugu, acting U.S. surgeon general, and Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also joined in the call.

Several speakers highlighted the need for people to get tested for AIDS -- a step the CDC now recommends for all Americans between 13 and 64.

That's one area where parishes can help, said Beverly A. Carroll, executive director of the Secretariat for African-American Catholics.

"We need to remember the three T's in addressing HIV/AIDS in our parish communities: talk, get tested and access treatment," Carroll said.

English- and Spanish-language suggestions for homily themes, prayers of the faithful and reflections for the first Sunday of Advent Dec. 3 were developed by Oregon Catholic Press and are available online at www.ncan.org.

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Editor's Note: More information on HIV/AIDS resources is available on the Web at www.usccb.org/hispanicaffairs/hivaids.shtml and www.omhrc.gov/hivaidsobservances/world/index.html.


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