Present and future challenges – The scale, impact and need for new approaches in the global HIV epidemic

By Andrew Tomkins, Institute of Child Health, University College, London UK
September 2002

The global HIV epidemic is the greatest threat to health, family life and economic survival that the World has ever known. Its pattern varies between countries according to mode of transmission and ability of civil society to respond. The poorest are the most affected. Achieving behaviour change is difficult but vital. Christian organisations have introduced novel programmes for prevention but there is little documentation of any impact. Christian organisations also play a front line role in the care of individuals and families affected by HIV/AIDS with a special focus on orphans but there is little documentation on whether the care provided is sufficient to promote child development adequately. There are, globally, many resources available – human, physical, spiritual and financial – but these are not all being released. This is possibly due to a lack of a clear evidence base for what effect individuals and communities can achieve. As the epidemic spreads there is an urgent need to develop and promote support for those interventions which are effective. There is now great opportunity for Christian organisations to introduce new approaches in programme design, analysis, evidence-base, reflection and reform of HIV/AIDS programmes.