world aids day 2012 I wasn’t looking for another child to sponsor. But then I saw two things next to her picture on the website: a red heart and a red ribbon.

Josiane, from Rwanda, had been waiting for a sponsor for over six months.

The red ribbon showed that Josiane lived in an AIDS-affected area.

Online, as I added Josiane’s sponsorship to my account, I took the opportunity to pay an additional $8 per month to give to the HIV/AIDS Initiative Fund.

According to UNICEF, 2.3 million children in Africa live with HIV and 14.9 million are orphaned by AIDS.

For the cost of a couple of fancy lattes a month, I’ve chosen to give to the HIV/AIDS Initiative Fund which does the following for Josiane and our other 470,000 + African beneficiaries, and their families:

  • Provide complimentary testing for all of our beneficiaries, their siblings, and caregivers. Testing is not a requirement, and if they decline, we respect that decision. However, it is available to all.
  • We bring awareness to all of our beneficiaries about HIV/AIDS. According to AVERT.org, only 24 percent of young women and 36 percent of young men in low income countries are knowledgeable about HIV transmission and prevention. Last year alone, we trained more than 2,600 HIV/AIDS peer educators who focus on increasing knowledge about the disease to bring about behavioral change.
  • Sadly, some of our beneficiaries and their caregivers are HIV-positive. For these, we provide the following services:
    • Nutritional supplements if needed.
    • We link them with the local government to acquire antiretroviral drugs (ARTs). If their local government does not provide complementary ARTs, we buy them.
    • We provide peer-to-peer counseling for those suffering from the effects of HIV.
    • We have special income-generating training for those caregivers who are HIV-positive.
    • Any additional needs for hospital care. This can include everything down to the bus fare needed to get to the hospital.

During the last fiscal year, in Compassion’s East African countries a total of 11,193 children and siblings and 42,806 caregiver beneficiaries were supported with antiretroviral drugs, house rent, house renovation, home based care, transport coverage and medical care including nutritional support.

Sidney Muisyo, our Africa Regional Vice President had this to say about the HIV/AIDS Initiative:

“Tremendous work is being done through the AIDS Initiative. We’ve found beneficiaries are staying in the program longer and their overall livelihood is improved. Beneficiaries and their caregivers have less opportunistic infection, are more productive, and have an overall better quality of life.”

I love the additional impact I can make in Josiane’s community for about $10 a month. If she or her caregiver contracted HIV, I will be able to help support and come alongside. This World AIDS Day, would you consider doing the same?

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