News (click to follow link)
Adventist HIV/AIDS programs
supporting affected African communities
Top Adventist leaders in
Southern Africa tested for HIV/AIDS
SDA Church begins HIV/AIDS
intervention program among the Maasai people in
Adventist Grandmothers Welcome
the Queen of Lesotho to an HIV/AIDS Program
The Challenge of the HIV
Pandemic and the Healing Power of Hope…
Africa: Church's AIDS Ministry
Expands, Calls for More Regional Coordinators
United States: College Campus
Gains New Awareness of HIV, AIDS
Don't 'File and Forget'
Church's Agenda, World Church President Urges
Be Participants, Not Spectators, World
Church Leader Says to Young People
Adventist World President Calls For an
'Accepting Church,' Lights Candle to Commemorate
World AIDS Day
Adventist Church Members Get HIV/AIDS
Adventist Ministry Mends Lives, Empowers Women
Association of Adventist Women Recognised Women that
Contributed to Humanitarian Work
Adventist Physicians Attend International Aids
Adventists Call for End to
Discrimination Against People with HIV, AIDS
Voluntary Counseling & Testing
Center In Swaziland and Lesotho Sewing Workshops
Class Designed to Reverse Behavior Leading to HIV/AIDS
Victims; Church Programs Expand to Rwanda
'No' to HIV/AIDS Through TV Show
What Would Jesus Do for HIV/AIDS
Let's Talk with Dr Paulsen
Adventist HIV/AIDS programs supporting affected
AIDS International Ministry, ADRA
teach prevention, provide livelihood for infected
1 Dec 2009 -
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States ... [Megan
For some Seventh-day Adventist-run organizations,
the December 1 observance of World AIDS Day lasts
all year long.
Eugenia and Oscar Giordano, assistant and executive
directors for Adventist AIDS International Ministry
(AAIM), helped establish the organization in 2003.
The couple, both medical doctors, said they felt a
need to address the lack of understanding of and
support for individuals infected with HIV/AIDS.
"Six years ago, our churches in Africa were in
almost complete denial on issues about HIV and
AIDS," Oscar Giordano said. "Today, there is no more
silence ... in a great number of our churches in
Africa. The more people know about HIV/AIDS, the
more they talk and commit themselves for action, the
less the virus will continue to spread."
AAIM covers the East-Central and Southern
Africa/Indian Ocean regions of the continent. The
organization recently expanded to include the
West-Central area of Africa, providing HIV/AIDS
sensitivity training for local church leadership.
The regional church leadership is planning to
provide the same training for 11 other countries in
the West-Central area, Giordano said.
"According to the data available from church surveys
and WHO HIV/AIDS related death rates, we estimate
that approximately 500 to 600 Adventist church
members are dying from AIDS every month in Africa,"
In 2009, AAIM started an AIDS prevention campaign
that will cover most of the continent by 2010,
"The main goal is to make sure that each of the
Adventist churches has reliable information on HIV
and AIDS as a mean of prevention, and that all of
our church members have access to it."
AAIM also provides sewing machines and materials to
HIV/AIDS infected individuals as a means of income
and sets up support groups to check on infected
individuals in their communities, Giordano said. The
support groups, sometimes including doctors, assess
the situations and make sure the individuals are
properly following their treatment procedures, he
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA),
the humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist
Church, also provides support and awareness for
individuals affected by HIV/AIDS.
"Around the world, ADRA offers HIV preventative
education programs, HIV/AIDS testing, and counseling
services to reduce the impact of AIDS on individuals
and families," said Charles Sandefur, president of
ADRA International. "Through these efforts, ADRA
expresses its call to biblical social responsibility
and considers it a vital task to help eradicate this
ADRA's five-part approach to HIV/AIDS includes
programs addressing education, prevention, testing
and treatment, ADRA leadership said. One example,
the Abstinence and Behavior Change program, provides
information and assistance to at-risk youth and
young adults in Kenya.
The $12 million project is funded by the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The project teaches young people about dangers
associated with high-risk sexual behavior, including
coercive and paid sex, and raises awareness about
monogamy and abstinence.
Another ADRA project in Kenya provides school
supplies, food, clothes and vocational training to
ADRA also works with child-headed households in
Swaziland, which make up 15 percent of the country's
total households. One in three adults in the country
are HIV-positive, resulting in a high numbers of
orphans, ADRA workers said. The program sends
trained caregivers to the child-headed homes to
assess the situation and provide a support network.
Top Adventist leaders in Southern Africa tested for
Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership in
Sub-Saharan Africa were counseled and tested for HIV
on November 2 in a public statement that the
HIV/AIDS pandemic requires practical attention in
the community. "It's good to know my status," said
Paul Ratsara, president...
4 Nov 2008, - Johannesburg South Africa, ...
Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership in
Sub-Saharan Africa were counseled and tested for HIV
on November 2 in a public statement that the
HIV/AIDS pandemic requires practical attention in
"It's good to know my status," said Paul Ratsara,
president of the church's Southern Africa-Indian
Ocean region (SID). Saying he wanted to do his part
in stamping out HIV/AIDS, Ratsara was joined by his
wife, Denise, for a private and voluntary counseling
and testing session and was one of the 54 leaders
representing 23 countries in the region.
A year-end leadership meeting in Johannesburg
devoted a full day of its six-day agenda to discuss
ways to address the HIV/AIDS issue, which affects
nearly every family in the region.
Members of the executive committee represent a
community of more than 3 million Adventists
worshiping in 20,000 congregations. SID is regarded
as one of the fastest growing areas of the church
"In all, this is a statement, as leaders, that we
are taking this situation seriously," Ratsara said.
"Though we are making some progress in combating the
pandemic, like in Zimbabwe, for example, the
situation is serious."
"We baptize thousands of people, but many of them
carry the virus, perhaps 20 percent," said Dr. Alex
Llaguno, the church's Health Ministries director for
"The church must intensify its efforts to
practically turn the situation around," Llaguno
In a decision to systemically address issues in the
SID territories, Rhoda Nthani, a public health
professional was introduced as a full-time HIV/AIDS
Coordinator for the region. She will implement a
strategic plan and policy to work with local
leadership and implement guidelines and programs
already established in the Sub-Saharan region of
In 2001, the Adventist world church established a
center for the Adventist AIDS International Ministry
"Our approach is to recognize and promote an
approach that each Adventist church becomes a
support center for the community," said center
director Dr. Oscar Giordano.
Giordano, assisted by his wife, Dr. Eugenia
Giordano, presented a training program that involved
members of the SID Executive Committee and led in
having an Adventist Declaration on HIV/AIDS adopted
by the group. The declaration includes a commitment
of each leader to engage in HIV/AIDS prevention and
to "speak out against stigma and discrimination of
people living with and affected by HIV."
Evaluating what the church must address, Tsepiso
Sesioana, a professional psychotherapist from
Lesotho expressed a concern that so many church
members continue to resort to being judgmental when
confronted with someone's plight.
"As a church we are facing a dilemma," Sesioana
said. "Where does the pastor go if he is HIV
positive? His ministry will be affected.
"There's silence in the church about the HIV/AIDS
issue, and many are hiding behind the "rightness in
behavior" and morality. This must be addressed," he
Attending the meetings, Matthew Bediako, secretary
of the world church, agreed that the attitudes in
the church must undergo change.
"It is unfortunate that we tend to be very
judgmental," Bediako said. "Especially when it comes
to HIV and AIDS we immediately conclude that the
victim has been unfaithful and therefore we condemn
them. The church, instead of showing mercy and
compassion, we avoid them, we don't want to be even
He referred to a statement made by women from
Lesotho, who said they couldn't turn to their church
for help because members didn't care.
"It touches us," Bediako said. "[So,] what is our
mission on this earth? Our mission is to touch
people. If Christ were here on earth as he touched
lepers in his time, I believe today not only would
he visit AIDS victims, he would hug them, he would
welcome him to his presence."
Bediako appealed to the church to "show compassion,
love to our sisters and brothers who are victims of
this disease." Johannesburg South Africa, Rajmund
SDA Church begins HIV/AIDS intervention program
among the Maasai people in Kenya
- Johannesburg .... [AAIM
Many years before they were called to
initiate and develop the Seventh-day Adventist
Church’s response to the challenge of HIV and AIDS
in Africa, Drs. Oscar and Eugenia Giordano were
privileged to meet with Soiyet Koisaba in her
traditional Maasai home in Ongata Rongai, a village
outside Nairobi Kenya.
Eugenia Giordano with
Adventist Maasai Women in
[Photos courtesy of AAIM]
That meeting took place in 1992 when
the Giordanos, while on a visit to Maxwell Adventist
Academy went with a group of Academy staff, led by
Gwen Edwards, on a mission to bring the good news of
the gospel to the Academy’s next door neighbours.
The neighbours lived in a small traditional Maasai
village adjacent to the academy. Two years later in
1994 the Giordanos were privileged to be back at
Maxwell Academy when Soiyet together with a number
of other people from her village became the first
members of the Maasai tribe to be baptised at the
academy. Some time after that the Maasai people
including Soiyet relocated to the village of Kajiado
near the Tanzanian border.
In January 2004 the Giordanos opened
the Adventist AIDS International Ministry (AAIM)
office in Johannesburg, South Africa. They
initiated and developed a comprehensive program that
addresses the many challenges of HIV and AIDS, by
encouraging every church to become an HIV/AIDS
Support Centre for the Community – bringing Hope and
Healing to those infected and/or affected by HIV and
AIDS. In the three and a half years since starting
the AAIM initiative the Giordanos have extended the
program to 16 African and Indian Ocean countries,
establishing many support centres, community
programs to help care for the thousands of AIDS
orphans, income generating projects for women
affected by AIDS and voluntary counselling and
testing (VCT) centres.
Several AAIM projects have already
been started in and around Nairobi and in a program
to extend the concept to many more churches in that
country, the Giordanos conducted a training seminar
for 137 participants at the Ongata Rongai SDA church
during May 2007. They noted that the Maasai village
no longer existed but they were excited to enrol
Soiyet Koisaba and 9 more Maasai, two of whom were
infected by HIV, as seminar participants.
The team of Maasai participants were
brought to the training program by Solomon Lenana
who, in a voluntary capacity, fills the role of
pastor. Solomon said that AIDS was of great concern
to the Maasai people who, like many in Africa, were
being ravaged by the pandemic. He said that there
were approximately 600 Maasai SDA members in his
territory but that this was the first ever church
based HIV/AIDS support or intervention initiative
among the these people.
Many Maasai people continue to live a
very traditional life, living in arid parts of the
country where water is scarce, fruit and vegetables
are almost unheard of and their diet consists almost
exclusively of milk which they drink at least three
times a day.
The Maasai delegates proved to be
very enthusiastic seminar participants recognising
specific cultural challenges that they faced, such
as the very sensitive issue of female circumcision
which is still broadly practiced amongst many Maasai.
During the seminar the participants developed a
culturally sensitive HIV/AIDS intervention project,
designed to meet the specific requirements of their
people. They then presented their action plan to
all the other seminar participants.
The Maasai participants were so
pleased with the knowledge that they had gained and
their new-found ability to make a difference in
their communities that invested on Drs. Oscar and
Eugenia honorary Maasai names. Eugenia was given
the name Naipota which means ‘full of knowledge’ and
Oscar was given the name Saruni which means “the one
who came to help us’.
Projects such as these are extending
Jesus’ method of offering hope to the hopeless, food
to the hungry, love and support to the lonely, to
many of those in the world who are most in need of
Last month of
November 2007 this group of Maasai received funds
and materials to start their projects.
Adventist Grandmothers Welcome the Queen of Lesotho
to an HIV/AIDS Program
- Johannesburg .... [AAIM
Singing and dancing with
almost one hundred grandmothers from Seventh-day
Adventist Churches spread across the country, Her
Majesty the Queen of the Kingdom of Lesotho praised
the Church for its efforts in combating the effects
of AIDS in the Kingdom. She said that it was her
wish that other denominations would follow the
example of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This
joyful occasion was the culmination to a three day
training seminar in which ninety-two grandmothers
from across Lesotho were given training and then
tasked with setting up Grandmothers Clubs in their
Majesty, the Queen of
Lesotho, celebrating with 92
grandmothers at the closing
on Sunday, September 9,
2007. [Photos courtesy of
The tragedy of AIDS is
destroying lives and devastating families across the
globe but with more than two thirds of the worlds’
infected, Africa is the continent most severely
impacted by the pandemic.
As the Adventist
Church’s frontline response to the challenge of AIDS
in Africa, Adventist AIDS International Ministry (AAIM)
is bring hope and healing to those infected and/or
affected by AIDS. Serving through out the
continent, Drs. Oscar and Eugenia Giordano, the
directors of AAIM have witnessed first hand the
devastating impact of AIDS on families and
communities and can bear testimony to the healing
power of love and acceptance.
While working with
affected families Eugenia became aware that a large
portion of the burden of AIDS was born by
grandmothers and because of lack of knowledge on HIV
prevention and how to best care for the infected,
they too were at risk of infection.
In traditional African
families, grandmothers are a source of wisdom,
comfort and counsel; a point of stability around
which the extended family rotates. In fulfilling
this role she could expect to enjoy the support of
her children and the extended family. Instead of
being able to rest and enjoy the support of the
younger generations many grandmothers are, as a
result of AIDS, being forced to assume burdensome
compelled to fulfil the multiple roles of caregiver
to their sick or dying children, parent to their
grandchildren, and provider for the entire family.
In many instances these duties and responsibilities
are not limited to caring for their own families but
include members of the larger community. This
awesome task is complicated by a lack of knowledge
and an absence of support and comfort for the
grandmothers. Recognising this need, AAIM set about
the task of establishing Grandmothers’ Clubs that
could act as a source of council and information for
grandmothers and provide them with an opportunity to
share their cares and concerns with others in a
The SDA church in
Lesotho is blessed in having energetic and
enthusiastic members who are willing to work with
dedication to share the love of Jesus with those in
need. One such member is Evelyn Nkhethoa.
When Eugenia shared the
idea of Grandmothers’ Clubs with Evelyn, Evelyn
became excited by the idea and set about developing
the concept with a passion. Evelyn badgered
pastors, motivated sponsors and inspired politicians
and as a result of her tireless efforts on September
7 this year (2007), Ninety Two Grandmothers from
Churches across Lesotho gathered for a three days
workshop at which they were trained in the skills
required to set up Grandmothers’ Clubs throughout
The extent of the burden
placed on grandmothers was again evidenced by the
Giordanos during the workshop. When asked who was
currently taking care of friends or family affected
by AIDS, almost every participant raised their
Their stories are
illustrated by that of one of the participants,
Maborotho, who having lost here daughter to AIDS is
now taking care of here two grandchildren. In
addition to this task Maborotho is assisting a
neighbour, also a grandmother, who having lost one
daughter to AIDS in February and a second during May
is now caring for four grandchildren, the oldest of
these children being only seven years old and the
youngest a babe in arms. The fathers of all these
children have previously died from AIDS. Instead of
having time to grieve for their own children, these
grandmothers now have to fulfil the role of parent
and provider to their grandchildren.
Through the workshop the
grandmothers received training in home based care,
nutrition, care for orphans and vulnerable children,
and psychosocial support. In addition to the
educational instruction, the participants were
enriched spiritually through music and bible study
and their physical needs were not forgotten as each
participant was able to enjoy three wholesome and
nutritious meals each day. On Sabbath the
participants were especially privileged to be able
to enjoy a banquet lunch sponsored by the First Lady
of Lesotho and at the end of the conference each
participant left with a hamper of foods and hygiene
Besides the valuable
knowledge gained during the training workshop, for
most of the participants the highlight of the
program was the closing ceremony which was addressed
by the Queen. She arrived at the meeting
accompanied by a marching band and a guard of honour
provided, by the local Pathfinder Club. Addressing
the meeting the Queen praised the elderly for their
dedication, service and sacrifice, and urged
children to honour their grandparents for their
sacrifice on behalf of their children and
grandchildren. The queen urged the participants to
share the knowledge they had gained with their
communities, she thanked the Church for the work it
was doing and said that she hoped that this would
not just be the end of the seminar but rather the
beginning of a great work.
At the end of Her
Majesty’s speech the band struck up a lively tune
and as the crowd ululated with joy and excitement,
the queen came down from the podium and together
with her subjects danced for joy at the opportunity
to be able to bring love and comfort to those in
need. People across the country were able to hear
of the efforts of the Church as the closing ceremony
was given prominent coverage on national
NOTE: AAIM is currently
in the process of taking this initiative of
Grandmothers Clubs to other countries in Africa.
The Challenge of the HIV Pandemic and the Healing
Power of Hope…
July 2007 -
Johannesburg .... [AAIM
people are usually surrounded, embraced and
encouraged, by the love of their families and
supported by their communities. Church members
rally to assist, enveloping the affected in a warm
blanket of love. At least this is what we
acknowledge the true Christian response should be.
Or what the Christian response should normally
be, however the condition of HIV/AIDS is seen by
many as an exception to the rule. Many church
members seem to believe that it is acceptable or
even desirable, to censure those infected by HIV.
stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS remains a reality in
many regions, and sadly this stigma is often
strongest in Christian communities. Church leaders
in some of the worst affected countries in the
world, situated in Southern Africa, have received
sincere questions from local church boards, seeking
advice on what the church should do “to”
rather than what they should do “for”
the afflicted. This air of condemnation adds to the
already significant burden of those infected and/or
affected by HIV and AIDS.
challenge of HIV and AIDS has grown to the extent
that AIDS related causes are now the leading cause
of death in Africa and the fourth largest cause of
The number of people infected and affected
continues to increase in both Africa and other parts
of the world. A recent news report noted that for
every one person entering therapy, six people were
Adventist AIDS International Ministry (AAIM) (a
mission established by the General Conference of the
Adventist Church, as the Church’s response to the
challenge of HIV and AIDS)
is implementing a
program to ensure that SDA churches become havens of
hope and healing, rather than centres of censure and
opened its office in Johannesburg South Africa
during January 2004. This office serves the three
Adventist African Divisions that together cover
sub-Saharan Africa. While only about 10 % of the
world’s population lives in sub-Saharan Africa, the
region is home of approximately 64% or in other
words almost two thirds of all of the people in the
world now living with HIV
AAIM program has in the past three and a half years
already been introduced in 17 African and Indian
Ocean countries, and is expected to reach its
twentieth country by the end of August 2007. AAIM’s
goal is to empower churches to be able to meet the
challenges of the pandemic at a grassroots level,
and to help church members reach their surrounding
communities as was shown by Jesus to be the response
required of Christians where in Mathew 25:35-36 He
said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to
eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to
drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I
needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and
you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to
The program provides churches with the tools
necessary to assist their communities in providing
Prevention, Care and Impact Mitigation.
AAIM’s action plan is to encourage, and then empower
churches so that they can become HIV/AIDS support
centres for their local community through the
organization of “Church Based HIV/AIDS Support
Groups.” Church and community sensitization
programs precede the mobilization of the
congregation. Love and compassion are the main
drivers of this plan. In carrying the program
forward the directors of AAIM, Drs. Oscar and
Eugenia Giordano, have on numerous occasions
witnessed first hand the incredible healing power of
Medical personal are able to provide powerful
therapies, capable of ensuring that people infected
with HIV can live long and productive lives.
Unfortunately the efficacy of treatment is often
impaired by the stigma surrounding the disease. The
infected are reluctant to seek medical assistance
until the disease has progressed beyond the point at
which treatment can be effectively implemented. For
those who do receive good treatment, on time, the
effect of rejection is still a broken spirit leading
to an impaired life. The directors of AAIM have
regularly noted that many of those infected with HIV
are not dying from the infection, but rather from a
lack of appropriate care, nutrition and support.
They have found that social support is a key factor
in the improvement of the health of a person living
with HIV and AIDS or any other chronic disease.
example of the healing power of hope was powerfully
experienced in the life of Maseeng. (See her story
on the homepage) The directors of AAIM met Maseeng
in Lesotho when she participated in a sewing
seminar, provided by AAIM as part of an income
generating project for those affected and/or
infected by HIV. When they met Maseeng she was
already receiving treatment with ARVs, but despite
this she remained thin, pale and when talking to her
one could immediately sense that she was hurting.
Throughout the seminar, as the participants felt
loved and accepted, they began to share their
personal stories with the rest of the group. As
Maseeng realised that she was loved and accepted for
who she was, she too began to open up to the group.
She told them that she had once been a school
teacher but that she had been infected with HIV.
With the progression of the infection she became
weaker, and discouraged to the point where she just
wanted to give up on life. Through the love,
acceptance and prayers of the seminar-participants,
Maseeng found healing form loneliness and despair.
This acceptance brought about a dramatic change in
Maseeng. By the end of the seminar she was not only
smiling and singing with the rest of the ladies but
dancing for joy!
Maseeng decided that she was not just going to lie
down and die but that she was going to live
positively with HIV. She dedicated her life to
making a difference to others. Now in the mornings,
in a room the size of a single garage Maseeng runs a
pre-primary school for over 50 children. In the
afternoons, after the children have left, she runs a
sewing class for ladies from her village, and on
Sabbaths this same room is an Adventist church to 13
people. Looking at her broad smile and listening to
her infectious laughter it is difficult to believe
that she is living with HIV. Maseeng is a living
centre of love and hope, and just one of many
examples of the healing power of love and
establishing HIV support centres, Adventist Churches
can make a very real contribution, not only to the
spiritual wellbeing of those infected by HIV but
also to their physical wellbeing. The support
centres can help combat ignorance, ensure that those
infected seek treatment before that disease
progresses to far, assist in ensuring treatment
preparedness and help to motivate those on treatment
adhere to the prescribed treatment regime. With
in-excess of four million members, in more than
sixteen thousand churches and groups spread
throughout Africa, together with hundreds of
educational and medical institutions, the Adventist
church is in a position to make a very significant
contribution to the fight against HIV and AIDS in
Africa. Following the introduction of AAIM
programs, silence, denial and the stigma of HIV/AIDS
has been broken in hundreds of SDA congregations.
Church members have increasingly become involved in
helping those infected and/or affected by the
implements training programs for Pastors, Elders,
Church and Community Members. The focus of these
programs is on HIV/AIDS Education & Prevention, HIV
and AIDS Counselling, Care (Home Based Care and
Orphan Care), and Impact Mitigation through income
generating activities that empower people infected
and affected by HIV sustain themselves and live
has programs for youth, and other significantly
affected groups such as women. There is also a
program for older women; especially grandmothers who
receive special attention from AAIM with the
establishment of “grandmothers’ clubs.” It is
important to recognise that grandmothers in Africa
are the primary caregivers for their children
infected with HIV, and then when they die the
grandmothers continue to care for the orphaned
grand-children. Without proper knowledge the
grandmothers can themselves easily become infected.
Through the work of AAIM several Unions and
Conferences in Africa have appointed National
HIV/AIDS Coordinators that are helping to ensure the
success of the HIV/AIDS programs in their region.
AAIM takes care to promote the
“Jesus’ Method”. E.G. White wrote:
“Christ’s method alone will give true
success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled
with men as one who desired their good. He showed
His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs,
and won their confidence. Then He bade them ‘Follow
is bringing hope and saving lives one person at a
time, field by field, church by church, member by
member, on a one to one basis.
AAIM’s dream is to see our churches transformed into
“Centres of Hope and Healing”, where people can come
with the confidence that they will be received with
love and acceptance.
article was written by Dr. Oscar Giordano, MD., MPH.
– Executive Director of AAIM, Dr. Eugenia Giordano,
MD., MPH. - Associate Director of AAIM, and
Courtenay Harebottle - AAIM’s HIV/AIDS Consultant.
The New International Version,
(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House)
AIDS Ministry Expands, Calls for More Regional
March 13, 2007
Nairobi, Kenya .... [AAIM/ANN
The AIDS International Ministry (AAIM),
set up by the Seventh-day Adventist world church in
2003 and based in Johannesburg, South Africa to
minister to those on the continent of Africa
suffering from AIDS, may have started small. But at
its fourth annual tri-regional advisory held Feb. 12
to 14 in Nairobi, Kenya, its growth was evident.
When Drs. Oscar and Eugenia Giordano began directing
the office, just four delegates showed up for AAIM's
first advisory. Three years later, that number has
jumped to 22.
Helping AIDS orphas are just
one of the projects that
Adventist AIDS International
Ministry have taken on.
[Photos courtesy of AAIM]
Delegates to the Adventist
AIDS International Ministry
annual advisory have grown
from just four only four
years ago to 22.
AAIM's National HIV AIDS
Coordinators came to the meetings from several
Much of that growth hinges on the dedication of
HIV/AIDS coordinators, said Dr. Oscar Giordano. "The
difference in the progress of projects in regions
where coordinators have been appointed compared to
areas where they have not yet been appointed was
At the advisory, country HIV/AIDS coordinators
shared with the delegates the progress of numerous
programs in their regions; programs such as the care
and support of AIDS orphans, home-based care for the
sick, education programs to combat discrimination
and stigma and income-generating projects designed
to assist with poverty alleviation such as
beekeeping, raising goats, dressmaking and the
establishment of bakeries.
During one of the meetings, "Emphasis on HIV
Prevention: The Role of the Youth," Dr. Eugenia
Giordano stressed that "churches should create a
loving, caring and supporting environment for the
youth; an environment where adults are not
judgmental but accepting, and treat the youth with
respect, accepting them as young but nevertheless
full members of the church. Establishing meaningful
relationships and interactions with the youth helps
them to build up resilience to HIV/AIDS, by avoiding
the high risk behaviors that lead to the HIV
infection and other undesirable conditions such as
alcoholism and drug addictions."
She added: "If we help by organizing the youth in
support groups, with a strong spiritual foundation,
they will go out and work in the surrounding
communities as peer educators. As a result our
Adventist youth will gain knowledge for themselves
while they are conveying the messages to others.
They will be a positive influence on others and will
themselves be spiritually revitalized."
At the end of the meetings the participants compiled
a final document of recommendations. These included:
open and honest discussions about human sexuality,
the appointment of dedicated HIV/AIDS coordinators
in particularly impacted areas, and the collection
of special offerings to financially sustain the work
of those HIV/AIDS coordinators and church-based
HIV/AIDS support groups. They also suggested each
Adventist university in areas of the world heavily
affected by HIV/AIDS should offer a general
requirement curriculum on the disease.
"I am impressed how this ministry has grown so fast.
As long as we surround ourselves with God's power we
will continue making a difference," said Dr. Fesaha
Tsegaye, director of the Health Ministries
department for the Adventist church in the East
Central Africa region.
AAIM is now actively working in 14 countries across
United States: College Campus Gains New Awareness of
January 23, 2007
Riverside, California, United
States .... [Taashi Rowe/ANN]
In an Old Testament studies class
she focused on the stigma of AIDS. In a class on
social work she focused on women as the face of AIDS
and the impact it has on the family. In an art class
she talked about how artwork is used to inform the
pubic about AIDS. She attended business that focused
on social entrepreneurship and what business can do
to affect the AIDS cause.
Eugenia Giordano (left)
spoke of the work the
Adventist Church is doing
with HIV and AIDS patients
in Africa. [Photos: Noelle
1,000 students attended the
presentation, some made
commitments to become
involved in AIDS work.
No, she's not a teacher. She's Eugenia Giordano M.D.,
associate director of Adventist AIDS International
Ministry (AAIM) and has spent several days as guest
lecturer at La Sierra University, a Seventh-day
Adventist institution of higher education in
Riverside, California. With each class she visited
Dr. Giordano shared with students and teachers how
HIV and AIDS impacts different facets of society.
Dr. Giordano, along with her husband Oscar, who is
also a medical doctor, oversee AAIM from
Johannesburg, South Africa.
AAIM was started in 2003 to help Seventh-day
Adventists in Africa deal with the scourge of HIV
and AIDS, which claims the lives of 12 church
members daily. Today AAIM has put down roots in
local communities with programs that provide income
and that open the doors of the church to those with
the disease. Heide Ford, director of the Women's
Resource Center (WRC) based on campus, invited Dr.
Giordano to speak at the school after hearing about
the work of AAIM.
On Jan. 23, Giordano spoke at an assembly in front
of 1000 students about the global issue of AIDS and
what the Adventist church is doing to combat the
problem. The assembly was followed by a
question-and-answer segment in which Dr. Giordano
shared ways in which students can help those
suffering from HIV or AIDS.
"I had the impression students have heard about HIV
and AIDS in the United States but here it is kind of
controlled through medication and treatment. Many
don't understand that it is a global crisis," said
Dr. Giordano. "It's not just in Africa; it is
As for how the talk will affect La Sierra students,
Ford said, "Some students will think 'it's no big
deal' but for others it may plant a seed for
something down the road."
She added that she was struck by the look on one of
the young women's face during the presentation. "She
had such a stunned look on her face when Dr.
Giordano showed a slide saying 6,000 people die
every day in Africa from AIDS."
"I was moved to tears to see the reality of the AIDS
crisis especially how it affects the orphans," a
student said during one of the classroom visits. "I
think students need to be reminded of the AIDS
crisis," another student said.
"You're an answer to prayers," Jodi Cahill, faculty
sponsor for Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a
student business group, told Dr. Giordano.
Some SIFE students were already involved in doing
humanitarian work in Africa and were looking to do
more projects. They were eager to partner with Dr.
Giordano on the AIDS project.
Talking to students on college campuses often
results in action on their part, Dr. Giordano said.
In 2005 when she spoke to students at Loma Linda
University and Medical Center, another Adventist
institution, students went on a mission trip to
Swaziland and raised funds to build a clinic for
those affected with the disease. Giordano said many
students are still involved today.
"One of the goals of the WRC is to highlight the
incredible things that women are using their gifts
to do in the world at large," Ford said, explaining
how Dr. Giordano was invited to speak on campus. Dr.
Giordano follows in the footsteps of Alice Ouma who
also spoke about AIDS last year on the La Sierra
University campus. Ouma spoke about the work she and
her husband James were doing to help Kenyan widows
and children orphaned by AIDS.
Ford says the response to Dr. Giordano's visit was
overwhelmingly positive. She noted that many
students asked how they can become involved. "Many
were not even aware that our church has this
"Our church is caring, our church has a ministry and
our church is doing something," said Dr. Giordano.
Africa: Don't 'File and Forget'
Church's Agenda, World Church President Urges
December 7, 2006 Pretoria,
South Africa .... [Elizabeth Lechleitner/Rajmund
"As a global community,
we need to be a voice that articulates the issues, a
voice that stirs the conscience of the governments
and the people in positions to make a difference,"
said Pastor Jan Paulsen, Seventh-day Adventist world
church president. His remarks were part of December
4 inaugural events at the church's new Southern
Africa-Indian Ocean (SID) regional headquarters
located in Irene, a suburb of South Africa's
administrative capitol, Pretoria.
The Southern Africa-Indian
Ocean (SID) region of the
Seventh-day Adventist church
will move from Harare,
Zimbabwe, to its new
headquarters in Pretoria,
South Africa, over the next
few weeks. The spacious
three-story complex, located
in one of Pretoria's
business parks, will house
some 50 personnel. [Photos:
From right, world church
president Pastor Jan
Paulsen; Mike Seloane,
African National Congress
Member of the Provincial
Legislature; SID president
Paul Ratsara; Claude Sabot,
an associate secretary for
the world church; and Roy
Ryan, who coordinated with
developers for the
headquarters and is an
associate treasurer for the
world church, join audience
members at the inauguration.
"We cannot be content with
merely asking, 'What can we
do?' We have to speak for
those who cannot speak for
themselves," Pastor Paulsen
said during inaugural
Along with world church and
regional leaders, Pastor
Paulsen participates in the
ribbon-cutting ceremony at
the new headquarters.
"We cannot be content with merely asking, 'What can
we do?' We have to speak for those who cannot speak
for themselves," he added.
In his address, Pastor Paulsen outlined what he
believes is the world church's two-part agenda.
While most Adventists readily acknowledge the
church's "obvious" mission--that of "nurturing the
spiritual life of the global community"--Paulsen
stressed its other aim: meeting the "temporal and
immediate" needs of both church and community
Cautioning against isolationism, Paulsen said, "The
church was established primarily for people who are
not members and must not be a community for itself.
We have a mission to reach those who are outside.
The church must be a compassionate, proactive
community, addressing the hopes, aspirations,
frustrations, sufferings and longings of everyday
In particular, Paulsen highlighted four areas where
he expects the church in the Southern Africa-Indian
Ocean region and worldwide to contribute more
actively and visibly. Those areas are education, HIV
and AIDS, violence and abuse against women and
children, and civil war and unrest.
"Education in developing countries for parents who
look to a better future for their children has
enormous value," said Paulsen, commending Adventist
education's uniqueness in offering not only sound
academics and professional training, but also a
perspective that values "moral and ethical
Adventists must direct considerably more focus,
however, to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Africa,
Paulsen observed. Responding to the staggering rate
of HIV infection in South Africa, which falls second
only to India, Paulsen said, "I suspect sometimes
that the global community tires a bit of all this.
You hear the same [statistics] so many times that
somehow an element of fatigue sets in."
"God forbid," he continued, "that the church should
ever tire of exploring ways [to] contribute to
alleviating some of the sufferings [brought on by]
this pandemic." Paulsen then called on church
members to partner with governments and
organizations to raise the funds, resources, and
awareness necessary to combat HIV and AIDS.
Paulsen added that he expects the church's Southern
Africa-Indian Ocean region to "develop a
comprehensive, sustained, strong and
well-communicated ministry that will train the local
churches to be centers of support, hope, love and
compassion for people who are suffering."
"The church is doing many good things for the
community, but we've not been effective or strong in
making [HIV and AIDS awareness] known to the public,
or indeed making it known to the government with
whom we wish to partner in addressing this issue,"
Paulsen remarked candidly.
Working together with social and state initiatives
was a common thread Paulsen wove throughout his
address. The regional headquarters' inauguration
fell amid a 16-day national campaign to combat
violence against women and children.
"I thank you for the challenge," Paulsen said, "but
frankly, 16 days is not enough. The church has to
make this issue part of its ongoing initiative in
the community. We have, as a church, released a
formal statement specifically addressing the
reprehensible nature of abuse against women and
children. But statements can easily be filed and
forgotten if we don't keep articulating the issues
and identifying with people in the community."
Violence in the home, Paulsen implied, is often a
reflection of aggression on a national scale. "We
recognize the difficulty of finding healing after
extensive destruction. The church is engaged in
healing, but it's a long process," said Paulsen,
referring to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
Paulsen expressed particular concern over the
atrocities that continue to plague Africa, most
notably in Congo and Darfur.
"We don't say much, and we don't hear much, about
the many more whose lives and homes have been
destroyed in Congo. And at the moment we have Darfur
in Sudan where a quarter of a million people have
been killed and 2-3 million people are refugees
living in squalor because there is no togetherness
of thinking and planning or will and resolve by the
international community to implement solutions," he
Referencing a parable recorded in the New Testament
book of Matthew, Paulsen stressed that action, not
words, ought to be the benchmark of Christianity. "I
suffered from HIV and AIDS, and you loved me and
accepted me," Paulsen said, adding to a passage
where Jesus implies genuine concern for humanity far
outweighs doctrinal expertise when it comes to
"When the cause of the poor and suffering is no
longer visible on the agenda of the church," Paulsen
said, "I despair at the church. Christ will hold
this church accountable if we are not a
compassionate voice for the needs of the poor and do
what we can to alleviate their sufferings."
The inauguration of the new headquarters was laced
with symbolism representing the region's unity and
diversity, including a flag raising ceremony.
As a civic guest at the event, which was attended by
some 300 guests from the church in South Africa and
the region, Mike Seloane, African National Congress
Member of the Provincial Legislature, addressed the
inaugural audience. "Christ was not sectarian. He
accepted and loved everybody unconditionally,"
He pointed out that God's character is marked by
unity, love, forgiveness, truth, and
humility--qualities the church should strive to
embody. Seloane also referred to the church's moral
voice in society. That voice, he said, "is playing a
leading role in providing services and programs that
will deal with ethics and corporate governance. This
church is known to adhere to high standards of
Seloane added that "this church has to [m]ake a
conscious decision to form partnerships with
government and the rest of civil society [while]
still reflecting the character of Christ and not
compromising the 'truth.' Communities are looking
forward to get[ting] restoration and hope from
institutions such as churches."
Seloane, whose wife is a Seventh-day Adventist, said
the new SID offices "must be offices of hope and
peace. This church through this office has to look
at Sub-Saharan Africa's problems, like HIV and AIDS,
without being judgmental [and] restore homes through
showing unconditional love to the infected
individuals and families."
"This is a special day for our church on the
continent of Africa, and especially its Southern
part," said Paul Ratsara, SID president. The opening
of SID's new headquarters drew a wide audience of
regional church officials, including representatives
from 23 of the region's countries and territories.
Together with Ratsara, Solomon Maphosa and Jannie
Bekker, regional secretary and treasurer,
respectively, officiated inaugural celebrations.
Among representatives from world church headquarters
were Matthew Bediako, the world church's executive
secretary, Robert Lemon, its treasurer, and, Pardon
Mwansa, one of the world church's vice presidents
and a former leader of the region.
The Pretoria headquarters will replace SID's former
offices in Harare, Zimbabwe, and will minister to a
regional membership of some 2 million Adventists.
The church formally established its work in the
southern part of Africa in 1887 in Cape Town, which
for decades hosted its regional headquarters.
According to Ratsara, the move from Harare will take
place over the next few weeks. The spacious
three-story complex, located in one of Pretoria's
business parks, will house some 50 personnel. SID
headquarters is one of three African regional church
centers. Headquarters for Eastern Africa are located
in Nairobi, Kenya; Abidjan, Ivory Coast hosts
Western African regional offices.
Africa: Be Participants, Not Spectators, World
Church Leader Says to Young People
December 5, 2006 Cape Town, South Africa ....
Church president Pastor Jan
Paulsen answers a young
person's questions during
Sunday's broadcast of
Let's Talk South Africa.
[Photos: Rajmund Dabrowski/ANN]
50 young people from across
the church's Southern
Africa-Indian Ocean region
met with Paulsen for the
director for the church's
Southern Africa-Indian Ocean
region, directed Let's
Talk South Africa, the
14th in the Let's Talk
Let's Talk South Africa, the 14th in a series of
unscripted, unedited conversations broadcast live
between Seventh-day Adventist Church world
president, Pastor Jan Paulsen, and a group of young
people, might well be dubbed 'Let's Get Involved.'
Continuing his commitment to "feel the pulse of the
youth and young professionals of our church," Pastor
Paulsen on Sunday, December 3, met in Cape Town,
South Africa, with 50 Adventist young people
representing 11 countries across the church's
Southern Africa-Indian Ocean region.
Throughout Let's Talk South Africa, Pastor
Paulsen reiterated that young people themselves are
often the answer to their questions. Specifically
regarding young people who have left the church, he
said, "Why don't you reach out and try to talk to
them? Tell them 'we miss you,' and that life is
richer in the church. That is an initiative that I
want to place on the shoulders of you who are young.
Please minister to your own peers and your own
colleagues. Encourage young people to hear each
other out, because they are more likely to listen to
each other. And then we as leaders have to reexamine
what we do to support you in that ministry."
During the broadcast, several young people posed
questions with a common premise: why world church
administration is not more visibly involved in local
congregations. Continuing his 'ask not what your
church can do for you, but what you can do for your
church' theme, Pastor Paulsen responded to a
question regarding church unity with the following:
"I think young people, particularly here in South
Africa, because you live in such a diverse society
... are better placed than many who are older than
you. So I see you have a ministry."
"I think it's very important that our churches at
the local level should truly become integrated
churches where you share in worship and share in
leadership, and where you affirm each others'
genuineness in Christ and you are blessed by the
richness which we may experience in that diversity."
In answering several questions, Pastor Paulsen took
the opportunity to remind young people to safeguard
their personal relationships with Christ. "Don't be
passive, but active in the life of the church. And
be serious about looking after your spiritual life.
Nobody else is going to do it if you don't; you have
the primary responsibility."
Throughout the hour-long Let's Talk South Africa,
audience members repeatedly questioned the church's
efforts to combat HIV and AIDS. In response, Pastor
Paulsen readily admitted more work could be done,
but that local churches and individual members hold
as much responsibility as church administration to
that end. "The church must be a place of hope. It
must be something people can turn to and find that
the value God has placed in every human being is
recognized by the church."
When some young people implied that the world church
is not doing enough to regulate the behavior of
church members, Pastor Paulsen made it clear that
world church administration is not a micromanaging
body. "You don't deal with people that way. You can
minister to people, you can love people, and you can
tell them about Christ and the gospel and
demonstrate the richness of the Christian life to
them and make an appeal to them. But at the end of
the day, it's going to be [their] personal choice,"
Encouraging young people to make that choice is one
of Pastor Paulsen's greatest hopes for the Let's
Talk series. He says young Adventists are the
church's future and its most important asset. "I
don't believe you can build [that future] without
Jesus Christ," he said during the broadcast. Paulsen
urged the audience members to fully integrate
themselves in the activities and initiatives of the
church. "Participate in every aspect," he said, and
"allow your talents, energy and creative initiative
to ... flow into the life of the church."
Africa: Adventist World President Calls For an
'Accepting Church,' Lights Candle to Commemorate
World AIDS Day
December 1, 2006
Port Elizabeth, South Africa .... [Rajmund Dabrowski/ANN]
On a day the world
community recognized the challenge of HIV and AIDS,
Pastor Jan Paulsen, world president of the
Seventh-day Adventist Church reaffirmed the
Adventist commitment "to an be active, and not a
silent partner" in addressing what has become a
curse for mankind.
Hundreds of Seventh-day
Adventists greeted world
church president Pastor Jan
Paulsen upon his arrival in
Port Elizabeth, South
Africa. [Photos: Rajmund
airport tarmac, Pastor
Paulsen is greeted by a
group of South African
children and church leaders.
Pastor L. M. Mbaza (center),
president of the local Cape
Conference, looks on.
Accompanied by world church
secretary Pastor Matthew
Africa-Indian Ocean regional
president Pastor Paul
Ratsara and other church
leaders, Paulsen lights a
symbolic candle to
commemorate World AIDS Day.
As he arrived in Port Elizabeth, Pastor Paulsen was
met by hundreds of Adventist believers and
recognized World AIDS Day by lighting a symbolic
Speaking at the airport, Pastor Paulsen said that
HIV and AIDS "is a responsibility and challenge to
find solutions, not only to South Africa, but for
"We need to seek and find solutions in the
scientific and medical area, in prevention, in
training and in acceptance, within our communities,
of those who are suffering."
"Our church is an active and not a silent partner in
addressing the challenges of HIV and AIDS," Pastor
Paulsen said. "We do what should be done in any
community to prevent the spread of this curse. We do
it also in training churches to be accepting of
those who are suffering."
He said that "a church is where people come to be
accepted, to be loved, and to have their human
dignity recognized. We also come to church to find
... the future. The church must love them. The
church must be supportive, positive, loving and
accepting." He sees the church as an "active partner
of this important ministry on Christ's behalf."
This is Pastor Paulsen's second visit to Port
Elizabeth. In 1991, as chairman of a Commission on
South Africa set up by the church's General
Conference, he participated in a consultation with
church members about merging two unions,
restructuring them into one administrative unit for
"We did that," Pastor Paulsen stated. "At that time
it was a big step forward and it was a signal. But
there are still more things to be done. We have
still some distance to go and we have not completed
the task as a church."
In a statement to the media, the world church
president said, "the path toward unity in South
Africa has not been easy. But it is a course that
has been undertaken with courage and
determination--with an undaunted belief in a better
future for the children of your country. On behalf
of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, I
want to express my admiration and support for those,
both within the government and the private sector,
who are leaders in this cause."
"As we look around the world today we clearly see
how hate and intolerance lead to violence and
destruction. As a church, we believe that it is only
by recognizing the dignity and worth of every human
being that we can hope to build more peaceful
communities," Pastor Paulsen added. He also stated
"the Adventist Church is committed to working for
peace and reconciliation by promoting tolerance and
respect for fundamental human rights. I pray that
the Adventist Church in South Africa will be a
partner in this, that it will do all it can to
foster harmony and understanding, and that it will
be an instrument of reconciliation and healing
Pastor Paulsen recalled that his first visit to
South Africa was just after Nelson Mandela was freed
from his imprisonment and a few years later became
the country's president. Paulsen recognized Mandela
as "an outstanding leader and symbol for integrity
and morality in leadership not only for South
Africa, but also for the world," and commended South
Africa for the steps taken forward in the last 15
years by Nelson Mandela and his successor, President
Thabo Mbeki. Paulsen commended the developments in
South Africa where today its citizens "experience
self-realization and honor equality of humanity."
He also referred to steps taken in South Africa
toward eradication of violence. He commended the
nation for "marking the importance of eradicating
violence on the streets in the city, but also
violence in the homes, as well as violence against
women and the children. This we must never be tired
of. Children and women are vulnerable in society,
not only in South Africa, but also around the world.
They need our special care and protection."
"I want to commend the state for the initiatives
profiling these needs. I want to state this to the
representatives of the public, and to our church
members--we are talking about [issues] that are core
values to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and we
will do our best in expressing support for these
matters, and combating these ills of mankind,"
Pastor Paulsen concluded.
The South Africa itinerary for Pastor Paulsen
includes participating in a spiritual convocation in
Port Elizabeth on Sabbath, Dec. 2, and, in Pretoria
on Dec. 4, opening the newly built headquarters for
the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, one of
the world church's 13 geographical regions. On
Sunday, Dec. 3, he will have the opportunity to
participate in a "Let's Talk" conversation with a
group of young church members from across Southern
Africa, which will be broadcast live by satellite
throughout Africa and Europe.
On his visit to South Africa Pastor Paulsen was
hosted by Pastor L. M. Mbaza, president of the local
Cape Conference. He was also accompanied by world
church secretary, Pastor Matthew Bediako, Southern
Africa-Indian Ocean regional president, Pastor Paul
Ratsara and Francois Louw, president of the Southern
Huambo: Over 100 Adventist Church Members Get HIV/AIDS
Training - 20 November 2006
Taken from Angola Press at
Also published in All Africa newsletter at
11/13 - Some 125 Adventist Churches believers
selected from Angola`s 18 provinces are attending as
from Monday a seminar for trainers against Hiv/Aids
within the communities in central Huambo province.
The five-day event, promoted by the International
Adventist Ministry on Hiv/Aids (AAIM), aims at
backing Angolan government`s efforts to reduce the
disease in the country.
The meeting, being run by specialists from
Washington (USA) and the Philippines, is analysing
the prevalence and damage caused by Hiv/Aids, ways
of transmission and prevention, the combat of stigma
and strategies to assist Hiv/Aids affected and
infected persons, mainly orphans, widows and youths.
After the meeting, AAIM will outline a plan of
action to run similar training programmes in several
other localities of Angola, under the Adventist
On the occasion, Adventist Church Health director
for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean division,
Aléxis LLaguno, spoke out for the need for hard work
in Angola, including fight against the disease.
Angola`s statistics show the country has a low
prevalence of infections, estimated at 5 percent.
The source said that more and more effort is needed,
is as the pandemics can seriously affect the
country, should the current five percent jump to 20.
Africa: Adventist Ministry Mends Lives, Empowers
November 28, 2006 Maseru, Lesotho ....
Taken from also
with other AIDS-stricken
women in Lesotho, Maseeng
joined a sewing seminar run
by the Adventist AIDS
International Ministry (AAIM),
where she found support and
women in AAIM's sewing
seminar display their work.
directors Oscar and Eugenia
Giordano, both medical
doctors, are committed to
stamping out not only the
physical symptoms of HIV,
but also the prejudiced
attitudes many in both
secular and religious
communities project toward
Despite sweeping efforts by both government and
private organizations to step up AIDS education,
prevention and treatment around the globe, many
AIDS' sufferers continue to combat not only the
disease's ravages, but also the scorn and alienation
of neighbors, friends, and even family.
Ostracized by her community, weakened, and severely
depressed, Maseeng, a Lesothoan elementary school
teacher, led a life unraveled by AIDS. But then she
joined a sewing seminar run by the Seventh-day
Adventist AIDS International Ministry (AAIM).
Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, AAIM
was organized three years ago to combat AIDS, which
claims the lives of 12 Adventist church members
daily. Since then, AAIM has reached 14 African
countries, says Eugenia Giordano, the ministry's
associate director. The sewing seminar Maseeng
joined is one of AAIM's many income-generating
seminars created to help those infected with HIV
AAIM particularly focuses on caring for AIDS orphans
and women, who--according to recent World Health
Organization (WHO) statistics--are biologically,
socially and economically more susceptible to HIV
infection than men. In sub-Saharan Africa, WHO
reports indicate, young women are 6 times more
likely to contract the HIV virus than men.
At the sewing seminar, Giordano reports Maseeng's
healing process began with smiles and supportive
friendship. "Maseeng [found] people [who] were
loving and caring. [She] was not alone anymore. She
had a new group of friends--people [who] were in the
same situation that she was in. People [who]
understood her, [who] did not judge her, and [who]
cared for her."
But Maseeng is only one out of the estimated 40
million people suffering from AIDS around the world.
And a November United Nations report states "the
[AIDS] epidemic is growing in all areas of the
world, with worrisome signs of resurgence in some
countries that were trumpeted as successes in
combating the disease, like Uganda and Thailand."
Battling AIDS worldwide remains one of the UN's most
challenging Millennium Development Goals.
"We are aware that in the midst of this epidemic any
effort is never enough and much more needs to be
done," admits Giordano. But statistics discourage
neither her nor her husband, Oscar, AAIM's director.
Both are medical doctors committed to stamping out
not only the physical symptoms of HIV, but also the
prejudiced attitudes many in both secular and
religious communities project toward those infected.
[See the June 6, 2006 ANN story:
Africa: Adventists Call for End to Discrimination
Against People with HIV/AIDS.
"The biggest challenge our church faces is silence
about HIV and AIDS [and the] stigmatization,
rejection, and isolation of people living with [the
disease]," says Giordano. "But [AAIM] is promoting
hope, love and compassion to people living with
HIV." Giordano says AAIM--with its grassroots
organization focused on the concerted efforts of
local individuals, communities and
congregations--takes its cue from Jesus' healing
ministry on earth.
This December, Giordano and Oscar will commemorate
World AIDS Day during a ceremony held in Soweto,
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
International, a humanitarian agency long involved
in AIDS prevention and treatment, will also observe
World AIDS Day. In addition to continuing its
ambitious programs for those infected with the
disease around the world, ADRA will distribute red
AIDS awareness ribbons and provide informational
packages--themed 'What Can You Do?'--to educate
church members about the epidemic.
In Soweto, the Giordanos will celebrate triumphs
such as Maseeng's, but along with ADRA, they'll also
urge local churches, pastors, and lay people to
organize more church-based HIV and AIDS support
groups to "sensitize and mobilize the membership,"
says Giordano. She hopes a compassionate spirit
coupled with education will empower people to
mitigate the scourge.
Beyond that, Giordano believes solidarity is
essential. "The UN theme for 2006 is 'Stop AIDS.
Keep the Promise,' remind[ing] all of us of the need
[to] work together to fight this epidemic."
Maseeng has taken that reminder to heart. Today, in
addition to running a day care and resuming her
teaching job, she spearheads her own network for
women with HIV and AIDS in the surrounding
community, providing both encouragement and
financial wherewithal. "They come together to sew,
and to support each other with love and friendship,"
The women also meet at Maseeng's home each Sabbath
for worship services. "[Maseeng] is doing
wonderfully," reports Giordano. "She is full of life
and she is praising the Lord for everything that He
has done for her."
Adventist Women (AAW)
October 14, 2006 -
AAW Recognised Women that Contributed to
Eugenia Lopez-Sustache Giordano was born in Buenos
Aires, Argentina, and even as a child expressed the
desire to be a teacher and a physician. Her family
moved to the United States in the 1960s, but she
later returned to Argentina, where she married
Oscar, her childhood sweetheart. They completed
medical school together in 1978 at the National
University of La Plata. Eugenia and Oscar, a
surgeon, have four daughters.
1983, they decided to move to the United States,
where the entire family gave their lives to Christ
and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Eugenia
and Oscar wanted to serve God in a mission fi eld
and, in 1990, they received their first call to the
104-bed Mugonero Adventist Hospital in Rwanda. Dr.
Eugenia cared for inpatients and some 60 outpatients
a day. During the tribal war, Dr. Oscar spent much
time in Kigali, which left Dr. Eugenia to run the
hospital. It was a most stressful time and, in 1994,
they were forced to leave. They saw 948 baptisms
during their time there.
1995, the family moved to the island of Madagascar,
where they served for eight years in the Health
Ministries for the Indian Ocean Union Mission. Dr.
Eugenia served as Medical Director of the
Antananarivo Adventist Medical Clinic, in addition
to helping Oscar direct the Indian Ocean Union
Mission Adventist Medical System, which grew to 21
operational institutions serving 106,000 patients a
During their time in Madagascar, HIV/AIDS was
becoming an epidemic of crisis proportions in
Africa. Yet the problem was not being addressed
openly, either inside or outside the church.
"Instead, in most Adventist churches there is still
silence and denial about HIV/AIDS. Fearing
stigmatization and discrimination, church members do
not dare to disclose their status publicly. The
majority of our church members living with HIV and
AIDS suffer and die secretly," according to Dr.
2002, the General Conference appointed them to
establish the Adventist HIV-AIDS International
Ministry Africa Office (AAIM), which opened at the
beginning of 2004 in Johannesburg, South Africa. It
serves all three African SDA Divisions with some
16,000 churches and 4.5 million church members
across the continent. Unfortunately, the General
Conference was able to offer only a meager budget.
Even with limited funds, the Doctors Giordano are
highly effective in their ministry and achieve
Giordanos established several pilot programs in
countries all over Africa before initiating a fi ve-phase
action plan: 1) the sensitization of church
leadership; 2) training of pastors and elders; 3)
speaking openly about the issue, breaking the denial
and silence; and including HIV/AIDS segments in all
church activities; 4) appointing and training of
support group leaders; and 5) mobilizing church
members to assist and care for the infected and
Eugenia’s work focuses on women and children. In the
last four years, she has developed projects to
empower HIV-positive women and women at risk to be
fi nancially selfsustainable. She has seen hundreds
of lives transformed. Women who had given up on life
have found hope and self-esteem, widows have
mastered skills to sustain themselves and their
children, and orphans are being fed regularly.
Eugenia said, "Having served in the mission field
for the last 16 years, I found that every day is a
new adventure with the Lord, where the only way to
survive is to have a constant connection with God.
Making Jesus Christ a partner in everything I do is
my recipe for success. When I see how our work
touches so many lives, I feel great joy, and I know
that I am here today not because of my own merits,
but because God works through me."
August 29, 2006
Silver Spring, Maryland, United States ....
[Compiled by ANN
Physicians Attend International Aids Conference
... Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church's
response to AIDS in Africa attended the largest ever
meeting on HIV/AIDS which finished in Toronto last
Friday August 18. More than 20,000 people attended
the conference sharing the main theme of AIDS 2006 -
"Time to deliver" AIDS 2006 represents the most
diverse gathering of people seeking to bring
solutions to one of the major public health problems
that the world is facing today, which is the
HIV/AIDS pandemic. AAIM -Adventist, AIDS
International Ministry was present at the meetings.
Dr. Oscar Giordano, director of the Adventist Aids
International Ministry said of his participation:
"It was very important to have the Adventist Church
represented in the meetings because of the
increasing role that the churches are playing in
containing the epidemic and relieving its impact."
He added that there was a special exhibit section
dedicated to interfaith activities.
Adventists were among the
more than 20,000 people who
recently attended a major
conference on AIDS in
Canada. [Photos: Oscar
Africa: Adventists Call for End to
Discrimination Against People with HIV, AIDS
June 6, 2006 Johannesburg,
South Africa .... [AAIM/ANN Staff]
On June 5, 1981--25
years ago this week--the world became aware of a new
disease, AIDS. Since then 25 million people around
the world have died from the disease and today there
are 40 million men, women and children living with
HIV. Along with the growth of the disease,
particularly in the early years, prejudice against
those living with HIV or AIDS grew.
The new face of HIV.
Believing that HIV and AIDS
were diseases associated
with poor lifestyle choices
many including Christians
excluded those with the
diseases in the early years.
[Photo courtesy of AAIM]
Attempting to combat prejudice in the Seventh-day
Adventist Church, Adventist AIDS International
Ministry (AAIM), is proposing a set of guidelines on
HIV and AIDS for the Adventist church in Africa. At
a meeting in April, the AAIM committee made up of
church leaders in Africa approved a first draft of
As they travel throughout Africa--where the HIV and
AIDS pandemic is exploding--Oscar and Eugenia
Giordano see HIV and AIDS victims almost everyday.
Both medical doctors, the husband and wife team run
the Adventist AAIM. The ministry finds ways for
Seventh-day Adventist churches to play an important
part in the healing process of people living with
HIV or AIDS. After initial resistance the Giordanos
have witnessed several Adventist churches in Africa
opening their doors to provide emotional support as
well as practical support for those with HIV or
AIDS. [See the Oct. 10, 2005 ANN story:
Africa: What Would Jesus Do for HIV/AIDS Patients?]
Even with such progress the Giordanos say some
churches and their members have not been
understanding to those, often church members, with
For those questioning the necessity of the document
Oscar Giordano said: "While the church talks about
love and acceptance, the unfortunate reality is that
this is not what many experience. Some Christians
believe that [HIV and AIDS] is God's vengeance for
immorality and that those infected are thus not
worthy of our love and acceptance." He added that in
religious communities HIV/AIDS prejudice is often
worse than in the general community.
He referred to a letter a church member wrote to
Adventist leaders in the Southern Africa-Indian
Ocean region asking what should we "do to members
who are infected with HIV?"
The Giordanos said they were struck by the way the
question was phrased. "What should we do to
members who are infected by HIV?" Oscar repeated.
"One would have hoped that the question would read,
'What can we do for people infected?'"
In an Adventist-produced documentary on HIV and AIDS
in South Africa, Paul Mawela, a retired pastor in
the region who works with HIV and AIDS patients
said: "One of my own church members approached me
and told me, 'Pastor, I am HIV positive. Am I still
welcome to be a member in this church?' That gave me
a challenge. And I discovered she was not the only
one who thinks that to be HIV positive is to be like
a leper--you must be thrown out. There are many in
these communities [who feel that way]."
According to the Joint United Nations Programme (UNAIDS),
"People living with the virus are frequently subject
to discrimination and human rights abuses: many have
been thrown out of jobs and homes, rejected by
family and friends, and some have even been killed.
Together, stigma and discrimination constitute one
of the greatest barriers to dealing effectively with
Jan Paulsen, Adventist world church president
referred to the issue in his 2005 year-end address.
"Whether [people] are poor, carry the HIV virus, or
whatever, they are loved by our Lord," he said. "It
is our duty to express that love, and to give them
dignity and value as human beings. That is also our
Oscar explained that the document, one of love and
acceptance, will attempt to reduce the stigma
associated with HIV and AIDS. The document outlines
how Adventists should "treat those infected with
[HIV or AIDS], whether they are church employees,
students at our educational institutions, patients
at our medical institutions and how we relate to our
fellow church members," Oscar concluded.
The second draft of the document will be shared at
the next meeting of the AAIM board in October. The
Giordanos say they are working to make this a formal
policy not only for the church in Africa but for the
worldwide Adventist church.
VOLUNTARY COUNSELING & TESTING CENTER IN SWAZILAND -
April 17 2006
" What can we do for Swaziland" asked
Professor Eric Anderson of the Loma Linda School of
Public Health, during their brief visit in March,
2005 with his students. "Well, if you want to do
something, a VCT Center could be an ideal project"
replied Dr. Giordano, the Director of the Global
AIDS Ministry. "You have to consider the fact that
the prevalence now is 46% from ages 15-35 years
old." "You can build the VCT right here in our Eye
Clinic premises, " added Dr. Negre, the Director of
Swazi Eye Services.
"OK, we will do some fundraising, and
we'll get it done," Prof Anderson assured us. The
fund raising went lightning speed with the Loma
Linda Public Health Students. During the General
Conference Session in St. Loius, they had already
raised money for the VCT. They engaged with all
sorts of fund raising activity to reach the needed
amount. After the GC Session, we passed by the Loma
Linda, and had the opportunity to witness their fund
raising night. After the VCT building plan was
approved by Manzini City Council, we finally had
the ground breaking ceremony on the 19th January,
2006. The short ceremony was attended by the Media
and Television crew. We had representative from the
Church Forum for HIV/AIDS as well as from Manzini
City Council. Almost all the Pastors from the
Swaziland Conference were present. Thirty two
individuals from the Loma Linda School of Public
Health, have already booked their flight, to attend
the grand openning of the Voluntary Counselling and
Testing (VCT) Center on March 19, 2006.
Presently, Swaziland has the highest
prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world. The future is
bleak because the rate of new infection
continues to climb. In January, 2006, the HIV/AIDS
Surveilance Report of the Ministry of Health puts
the latest statistics to 56.2% for ages 20-29 years
Jun & Cherry Negre
for Echo Magazine - SID official publication.
Swaziland ACCS – Adventist Center for Care and
Support – (News release by Cherry Negre)
Original Message -----
To: Anderson, Eric (LLU) ; Llaguno, Alex ;
Giordano, Oscar ; Eaton, John ; van der Ness
Sent: Friday, January 27, 2006 11:52 AM
Subject: Ground breaking ceremony
Attached is a photo taken on Jan 19, during the
ground breaking ceremony for the establishment
of Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT)
Center. It was attended by Pastors from the
Swaziland Conference, a representative from the
Church Forum on AIDS, Manzini City Council,
Television Channel Swaziland.
The ground breaking was featured on the evening
news of 19 Jan.
Please pray for its success. Thanks.
Swaziland a VCT – Voluntary
Counseling and Testing Center
(Adventist Center for Care and
Support for people living with HIV
was officially opened on March 19,
2006. LLU-SPH, together with
AAIM and other donors, gave a
substantial contribution towards the
construction of the center.
Government and church authorities
were present at the opening.
•A representative from the Church Forum
on AIDS said that “the Swazi people
have education and awareness on HIV
and AIDS, but they can not use this
knowledge to change behavior.
VCTs are the most effective means to
•The ACCS is currently being organized,
and we hope it will be operational
AAIM News Release -
March 19, 2006
•Loma Linda University School of Public
supports AAIM’s Projects
in Lesotho and Swaziland
Mozambique: Class Designed to Reverse
Behavior Leading to HIV/AIDS
February 27, 2006 Maputo,
Mozambique .... [Taashi Rowe/ANN]
Did you know that
a positive self-image can stop a killer in its
tracks? This message is an integral part of a
six-month class on HIV/AIDS that 141 young people in
Maputo, Mozambique took last year. Ranging in age
from 10 to 18-years-old, participants took the class
as members of the Pathfinders -- a worldwide
organization of young people sponsored by the
Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Nora de Leon (front row
left) and seven of the young
people who taught the HIV
Herica Candido said the most
important part of the
program for her re-inforced
a positive self-image.
The Southeastern African country of Mozambique has
one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the
world, with the majority of new infections occurring
among those under 29 years, according to the World
Health Organization. A 2003 United Nations HIV
surveillance report estimates 1.4 million
Mozambicans of all ages were living with HIV/AIDS.
With that information in mind, Nora de Leon, RN and
a master's degree student at the Loma Linda
University School of Public Health in the United
States, developed a Christ-centered curriculum to
teach Pathfinders about the dangers of AIDS and how
the disease can be prevented.
"I've always enjoyed working with youth," says de
Leon. "I've had contact with youth in various
scenarios which have broadened my understanding of
how difficult it is for young people growing up in
our current environment. After coming with my
husband to Africa, I realized that I couldn't live
here and not give something back both to my church
and the youth."
The curriculum combined basic information on the
human reproductive system and reproductive health
issues, such as HIV/AIDS, with information designed
to change behavior.
"A key part of the curriculum were workshops
designed to assist in reinforcing the participant's
self-esteem, assisting in their negotiating and
decision-making skills, strengthening their
understanding of their personal value system,
assertiveness, and creating a personal vision of
their own future," said de Leon. "The basis of this
module was founded on sexual abstinence and delaying
their initiation into sexual relationships."
The program, which ran from April to November of
2005, relied on the willingness of Pathfinder
leaders in the city of Maputo to be trained and then
pass on the information and training to other
Pathfinders. The program was credited by some teens
with changing their worldview.
Pathfinder leaders reported that young people in the
church participating in premarital sex diminished
from 97.2 to 26.2 percent.
De Leon says the program's success came from a total
buy-in from the Pathfinder leaders. They had to
completely believe in all the principles of the
program themselves in order for young people to
believe in the information they were getting.
It was also openly supported by the Ministry of
Health in Mozambique, which sent a representative to
observe several sessions. They also publicly
recognized the Seventh-day Adventist Church as the
first religious organization in the country to
openly confront the issue of AIDS among its members.
The program was supported by Adventist leaders in
Mozambique, the local Adventist Development and
Relief Agency (ADRA) and Pathfinder International,
an international non-governmental organization not
related to the Adventist Church.
De Leon says there is great interest from the church
community and from the project staff to expand this
project nationally, but "we have thus far been
unable to obtain the necessary funds to make this a
"This program came at the right moment to help our
troubled youth that are confronting several
problems, especially about sexuality," said Herica
Candido, a 19-year-old high school student who
taught the course to fellow Pathfinders. Candido
said talking about "changing behavior in
adolescents, learning to make decisions by
themselves, and being responsible for the
consequences was an important part of this program.
Many of them opted easily for the sexual abstinence
De Leon said the program was brutally honest -- even
shocking -- about the kind of destruction and pain
that sexually transmitted diseases can cause. "This
created a basis for the youth to begin analyzing
their own realities and personal situation," she
"I think that what makes this different than some
other curriculums is that youth are strengthened by
being able to make their own choices for their
future, and not rely on just what they are being
told, but rather understand the consequences of
their decisions and apply and stand up for what they
believe through their values and actions," de Leon
Linda de Leon contributed
to this report.
Victims; Church Programs Expand to Rwanda
January 17, 2006 Kibuye,
Rwanda .... [Fesaha Tsegaye/ANN Staff]
HIV/AIDS is on the rise
and there is a community of people that now, more
than ever, need to be told about God's love. An
estimated 40 million people worldwide are living
with the disease, according to the United Nations.
Many Adventist Churches in
Africa are buying and
raising livestock like
chickens and goats to help
support those living with
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has long opened its
hospitals to serving those infected with the
HIV/AIDS virus, but more recently the denomination
has also opened its church doors. The church is
committed to uniting words of hope with hope in
A Jan. 11 meeting in Kibuye, Rwanda paved the way
for Adventist churches in that country to find ways
to support those with HIV/AIDS. The meeting brought
together a group of more than 120 that included
pastors, teachers and other church leaders from as
far away as the United States.
This builds on work already established by the
Adventist Aids International Ministry (AAIM) office
in Johannesburg, South Africa, a ministry that
teaches churches how to reach out to those suffering
from HIV/AIDS in their communities.
Spearheaded by Drs. Oscar and Eugenia Giordano, AAIM
helps Adventist churches in countries such as
Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho,
Madagascar, Uganda, Rwanda, and Swaziland to be
organized so that "Every Church can become a
Community Health Center."
The Rwanda meeting discusssed a initiating a goat
project, said Dr. Alan Handysides, director for the
Adventist world church's Health Ministries
"To a Western mind, a goat project may seem like a
wacky idea, but for an African, a goat gives income
and can provide a healthy diet, which is crucial
when living with the disease," Dr. Handysides told
ANN in a phone interview.
The concept of every church becoming a "cell" that
will support those affected by HIV/AIDS makes use of
its nearly 4 million Adventists on the continent who
worship in approximately 20,000 congregations.
Already some churches across Africa are running
church-facilitated industry and subsistence
activities that range from providing sewing machines
and bakeries, to goat breeding as means of
supporting the sick.
The Central Adventist Church in Nairobi, Kenya is a
classic example of a church becoming a support
center for those with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Handysides said.
He explained that this church has converted many of
its Bible study rooms for HIV/AIDS care and use them
for testing, counseling support, nutrition, clothing
assistance, work rooms and activity centers.
The push to encourage churches to help those with
HIV/AIDS fits into "Tell The World," the world
church's vision to share the gospel through a
variety of means, including community outreach,
media outreach, and encouraging church members to
spend more time reading the Bible and praying. One
of the goals of "Tell The World" is to increase
church members involvement in community service.
"The essence of 'Tell The World' is not just the
spoken word," said Dr. Handysides. "We can be
Christians by actions, not just words. It all fits
in beautifully with 'Tell The World.' By reaching
out to our communities, we tell them we care for
them, we are interested in their health, that they
are valuable and we want to be their friend."
East Central Africa, where Rwanda is located, is
home to more than 7 million infected with HIV/AIDS.
It also sees 6,000 deaths per day. There are between
2 and 3 million children infected by the virus, many
of whom are orphaned, hungry and in need of life's
basic necessities. Every hour 468 adults and 70
children globally contract the virus.
'No' to HIV/AIDS Through TV Show
January 13, 2006 Blantyre,
Malawi .... [Taashi Rowe/ANN]
The "monster" is big,
gray, and boxy with huge, sharp, white teeth, and is
intent on swallowing its victims whole. Parents may
have heard this description before when their
children talk about that "monster" in the closet or
under the bed. This time, however, the monster does
not only reside in the imaginations of children. The
monster is very real and, while it is not as huge
and as ominous-looking in real life, its effects
are. The monster is in fact a miniscule virus that
killed millions across Sub-Saharan Africa and other
areas of the world.
HIV/AIDS is this monster depicted as larger than
life on the television screens in the Southern
African nation of Malawi. Just like Sesame Street, a
popular educational television show for children in
the United States, taught children difficult
concepts through puppets and songs, so does the
television program Pro-Active Kids. The program,
which is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist
Church in Malawi, focuses on teaching kids about
When is the right age to start teaching children
about the serious and complex topic of HIV/AIDS? As
soon as possible if one takes a cue from the
Pro-Active Kids who range from ages five to 12. In
Malawi alone there are an estimated 100,000 children
living with HIV/AIDS, according to UNAIDS -- the
Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.
Before budgetary constraints discontinued taping of
new shows, 13 episodes were produced, according to
Dr. Saustin Mfune, president of the Adventist Church
in Malawi, who came up with the idea for the show.
The show was done for Television Malawi and was
aired every Thursday evening from October 2004 to
"All the series were on various aspects of HIV,"
said Mfune. "I [wrote] all the scripts and all the
music." Mfune came up with the program idea while he
was director of Youth and Children's Ministries for
the church's Southern-Africa Indian Ocean regional
Though the program is no longer on national
television, the Pro-Active Kids take the show on the
road to a variety of schools and churches. In
addition to talking about HIV/AIDS in their live
performances, the kids also talk about other topics
such as keeping the environment clean, the
importance of breakfast and self-esteem.
Over the years Mfune has also brought different
groups of children from Pro-Active Kids clubs in
Kenya and Malawi to various Adventist world church
"I did develop Pro-Active Kids clubs ... to build in
children Christian self-esteem and teach moral
education. It has and it still works very well,"
What Would Jesus Do for HIV/AIDS
2005 Silver Spring,
Maryland, United States .... [Taashi Rowe/ANN]
For Mammosa, a
26-year-old widow and mother of three, the most
supportive treatment for the HIV virus she carries
does not come in the form of a pill. Love and
compassion is the essential ingredient in any form
of treatment, say Drs. Oscar and Eugenia Giordano,
director and associate director of Adventist AIDS
International Ministries (AAIM) in Johannesburg,
South Africa. AAIM is an organization with a
ministry that helps answer the question, "What would
Just some of the children in
Lesotho whose parents died
from AIDS. These are
fortunate to receive one
meal a day. [Photos: Global
These women met at an HIV/AIDs
support group in Lesotho.
They have committed to
feeding 36 HIV/AIDS orphans.
Sewing workshops teach women
in Lesotho a skill that
allows them to earn an
Drs. Oscar and Eugenia
There are an estimated 25 million adults and
children in Africa living with HIV/AIDS, according
to the 2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic from
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Governments worldwide say the relentless spread of
HIV/AIDS around the globe is one of the world's most
pressing issues. Halting the spread of the disease
is one of eight goals that U.N. states have agreed
to do by 2015. The eight goals, called the
Millennium Development Goals, came out of a U.N
world meeting in September 2000 that identified and
outlined resolutions to alleviate the world's most
dire problems. The Giordanos are among those in the
Seventh-day Adventist Church who are responding to
the urgent call to be involved and change the
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that
HIV/AIDS is more than just a medical problem:
infection often results in loss of employment,
income, housing, health and mobility.
This is "because of the stigma attached to those
with HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa," says Dr. Oscar
Giordano in a recent interview with Adventist News
Network. "Most suffering from the disease are left
alone at home, weak, without the strength to walk to
fetch water or to find food."
So what would Jesus do? Dr. Oscar Giordano compares
those suffering from HIV/AIDS today to those
suffering from leprosy in Jesus' day. "Jesus would
approach these people, He would touch them, give
them His tangible presence, which means a lot for a
person who is completely alone. That touch of love
will last a long time ... care and compassion starts
the healing process," he explains.
AAIM was started in 2003 to help Seventh-day
Adventists in Africa deal with the scourge of
HIV/AIDS, which claims the lives of 12 church
members on a daily basis. Today AAIM, with a staff
of two, is starting to put down roots in local
communities with programs that transcend national
and human barriers.
The couple have served as medical missionaries for
15 years in Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire and Madagascar.
With a mandate to reach as many people as possible
on the entire continent of Africa, the Giordanos,
through AAIM, orchestrate dozens of projects that
advocate restoring the spirit and giving hope.
The Giordanos have chosen to attack this "silent
invader," not just from a medical standpoint but,
first, through love and compassion, and then
education, fostering social networks, and helping to
They believe that everyone in the Adventist Church
can improve the lives of those living with the
disease. The main approach is to demolish fear and
erroneous perceptions. This is particularly
important for the Adventist Church, Giordano says.
He explains that fear of what other church members
will think causes countless HIV/AIDS patient to
withdraw from society and die even faster from
"Many think that if they conduct themselves properly
that they won't get [HIV/AIDS]," says Dr. Oscar
Giordano. "But [for many women] it is a silent
invader like a terrorist. We don't know where it is
hiding but suddenly it is there."
More than half of all HIV/AIDS cases are women, Dr.
Giordano explains. He says that some husbands work
abroad for months at a time, turning to sex workers.
When they return home, they pass the disease on to
their wives. He also speaks of young women and girls
who have no education and turn to sex work to
The Giordanos have encouraged each Adventist church
in Africa to become a safe place for those with the
disease -- a place where patients can be honest
about the problem without fearing rejection. AAIM's
mission and motto is "Each Adventist Church, a
support center for the community through
church-based HIV/AIDS support groups."
While the Adventist Church has supported HIV/AIDS
programs as far back as 1985 in Botswana at Kanye
Adventist Hospital, AAIM's goal is to get every
church member personally involved in helping those
with the disease. The Giordanos say that every
church they have visited in Africa has become an
important partner in this ministry.
"We have not found anybody opposed to this. People
are willing to help," Dr. Oscar Giordano says. "We
are seeing our church congregations go
house-to-house visiting people on a weekly basis
doing home remedies, massage, bathing and washing
them, bringing vegetables and food and providing
company and encouragement, hope."
One support group of 10 women in Lesotho have put
together money to feed one meal a day to 36 orphans
whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS.
This kind of outreach improves the quality of life
for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the
"It is truly Christ's ministry in action," says Dr.
Contracting HIV/AIDS is an added burden to those
living in countries where poverty is often extreme.
"Poverty can in turn affect the quality of
treatment," Dr. Eugenia Giordano says.
"We went to a church in Kenya. There were about 29
members who were living in the slums," she recalls.
"They all were getting medicine but could not afford
to buy food." People cannot fight disease if they
are malnourished, she says.
In response to these situations, AAIM has helped
start and fund several small businesses. So far they
have established work in eight countries and, most
recently, have established programs in Lesotho,
Uganda and Kenya.
"We do a combination of education and awareness with
a practical solution to poverty," Dr. Oscar Giordano
says. "Our strategy is to go to a country and ask
them what their ideas are and how we can help."
"Many think that fighting HIV/AIDS needs a million
dollars but ... there are many ideas that are
wonderful and simple to do that are a source of
income," Dr. Oscar Giordano says.
Some of these sources of income have made a
difference, such as in Lesotho where AAIM provided
funding to start a garden for those living with
HIV/AIDS. They can then get an income from working
with chickens, goats and growing vegetables.
In Lesotho, AAIM has begun sewing projects where
women learn to sew, which in turn allows for a
source of income. They have also done agricultural
projects, even utilizing proper irrigation of a
In Kenya, where three persons die of AIDS every five
minutes, according to UNAIDS, learning to sew,
starting a bakery and providing bicycles allow men
with HIV/AIDS to deliver and sell baked goods.
"AAIM is very community-oriented. This is about
opening the doors of our churches and welcoming
people who have this problem," Dr. Oscar Giordano
says. "We need to be open to all with a
nonjudgmental attitude with lots of love and
compassion and do what Jesus would have done in our
Let's Talk with Dr Paulsen
Louis, Missouri, July 7, 2005.
In Africa we are suffering from HIV/AIDS. What
message do you give to the young people in
connection with that?
The church is massively involved in dealing with
the problem, and asking: How do we treat people
who carry HIV/AIDS? In terms of healing, it is a
multinational, international undertaking. But
every Adventist church should be a healing
forum; it should be an environment in which
those who carry HIV/AIDS can feel that they are
not being shunned, and that there are, in fact,
people who love them and will embrace them, and
who will socially be loyal to them. The church
is involved in Africa in a specific program to
train our churches to become havens of refuge,
havens of healing socially.