TEN: Changing the Course of HIV/AIDS

06/15/07

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In his book, The Good News About Injustice, Gary Haugen writes that oftentimes, when we hear about injustice, starving children, or the victims of pandemics, we become so overwhelmed by the pain and suffering in the world that we become disillusioned and end up “like deer frozen by headlights.” We see the despair of millions, but we don’t know what to do because the task of relieving the suffering of millions of people seems like an insurmountable mountain that cannot be climbed.

According to UNAIDS, the UN agency tasked with responding to the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa, 39.5 million people had been infected with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2006. To put that number into perspective, the population of California is 36 million. But simply recognizing the statistics is not enough. “Many people know about the pandemic and they know the statistics,” says COTN–FL’s Mike Schmidt. “They have read the stories and seen clips on the news, but people don’t know what to do, the problem seems too large.”

COTN–FL recently launched a new campaign to help people take action instead of being deer paralyzed by the headlights of HIV/AIDS. Schmidt says that the new campaign is designed to “draw people in on the basis that ‘knowing isn’t enough.’” It is a simple idea with a simple name: the “10 Campaign.” Ten dollars can educate, test, or treat.

While the “10 Campaign” can’t cure the deadly disease, it can take much needed steps toward education, testing, and treatment. Ten dollars can help COTN provide a day-long seminar that would not only educate individuals about HIV/AIDS, but also help chip away at the social stigma surrounding HIV/AIDs testing so that more people would be tested. Perhaps most importantly, however, for ten dollars, a child stricken by HIV/AIDS can be treated with antiretroviral medication. The 10 Campaign’s funds will be sent to COTN’s ministry in Malawi, a country which has 1.2 million AIDS orphans.

At this point, the 10 Campaign is still small but growing, and Schmidt hopes the campaign will soon be spread to other COTN locations as the campaign gains momentum. Schmidt sees the campaign as a way to help the general public “connect the dots between knowing and acting to become part of the fight against this terrible pandemic.”

Further information about the 10 Campaign will come in the near future. Plans are underway for a 10 Campaign web site in the coming months.