My dear brothers, may the Lord give you peace!

Every year, on December 1, the world community is invited to pause and reflect on the reality and impact of HIV and AIDS on the human community. It is a time to remember and pray for all 38 million of our brothers and sisters who are living with HIV, their families and friends, and to pray for the millions more who have lost their lives to AIDS (more than 32.7 million).

The year 2020 has been marked by the SarsCoVid-2 pandemic (CoVid-19), which is affecting the lives and livelihoods of the global human community. CoVid-19 is showing us just how interconnected global health is with other critical issues, including increasing social and economic inequalities, assaults on human rights and dignity, and threats to the environment.

As the world turns its full attention to the CoVid-19 global pandemic, there is a danger that the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic could be forgotten, that the battle to defeat it might experience a setback, and that national and international attention and funding could be reduced.

Pope Francis in his recent encyclical Fratelli tutti warns us that “In today’s world, the sense of belonging to a single human family is fading, and the dream of working together for justice and peace seems an outdated utopia…[We fail] to realize that we are all in the same boat” (30). For the Pope, it is only when we come to realize that “no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together” (32) that we will be able to confront the challenges we face and, working in collaboration and solidarity, overcome them with the grace of God.

Much progress has been achieved in recent years, but many challenges remain. Let us unite our energies and our prayer as we contend with the two viruses and their terrible consequences: HIV/AIDS; and CoVid-19. Let us urge our national leaders to continue to guarantee adequate financial support for safe, effective, and affordable antiretroviral and other necessary drugs to combat HIV and treat related illnesses, and to make special provision to ensure that there is no interruption in the production and distribution of these life-saving antiretroviral therapies. As disciples of the risen Lord Jesus and followers of our Seraphic Father Francis, may we never cease to love, support, and pray for our brothers and sisters who are living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. Let us also pray for our own brothers who live with the virus and who, despite the challenges they face, continue to serve the needs of God’s people, especially the poor and forgotten

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