The Merry Family

Merry Mission Journal

December 1, 2004

World AIDS Day

The United Nations has declared that December 1, 2004 is World AIDS Day. Here in Malawi it has been well publicized. Everyone here, including the CCAP is fighting this pandemic. There will be a special service today at noon at St. Columba CCAP Church that Dan and I will both be attending. Blantyre Synod just hired a full-time person to coordinate the HIV/AIDS program, although they have been working on the crisis for years. There will be special emphasis on educational programs for youth.

Here is some information that I got from the Center For Disease Control’s Global AIDS Program website this morning that explains just how bad the problem is here:

The HIV/AIDS Situation in Malawi:
   HIV Infected: 900,000
   AIDS Deaths: 87,000
   AIDS Orphans: 380,000

Malawi's HIV infection rate is high compared to other countries, though similar to many countries in the region. In 2003, it was estimated that 14.4% of adults aged 15 to 49 years were infected with HIV.

The estimate for new HIV infections in the total population in 2003 was approximately 110,000.

Over 70% of hospital beds are occupied by people with HIV/AIDS-related conditions. Surveys of tuberculosis (TB) patients show that approximately 70% are co-infected with HIV.

Life expectancy was estimated to have been over 55 years without AIDS, but has dropped to 40 years as a result of AIDS.

The HIV infection level among younger females 15 to 24 years of age is approximately four times higher than in same-aged males, while the infection levels in older males are higher than in older females.

Malawi faces a critically short supply of public health workers, health care providers, facilities, equipment, transportation, and medicines.

Hardly a day goes by when we do not see a long funeral procession on the streets of Blantyre. The newspaper published the statistic that 10 people per hour die of HIV/AIDS in Malawi. The pandemic affects every level of society here. Because it is so important, culturally, for people to attend funerals of relatives and friends, workplaces experience absentee rates that are as high as 40% on an average day. It is very difficult to conduct business with that much of your work force missing.

The problem of orphans has been well publicized. Every family that we know here is caring for children that have lost parents to the disease. You can see the fatigue and defeat in the faces of the caregivers.

Please join us and others around the world today in praying that the combined efforts of the governments, the churches, aid organizations and others will begin to make a difference in the lives of those already afflicted with the virus and prevent more people from becoming infected.

Beth Merry

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