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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Our common fight

U.S. and Colombian Lutherans work against the spread of HIV

For the last eight years, Eduardo Martinez has fought the good fight for HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness.

Before he became bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Colombia, Martinez coordinated its HIV/AIDS response. At times he's encountered prejudice and inaccurate information — even among pastors and church leaders. But he and others are working hard to inform pastors and all those who help to spread accurate information about the disease around the world.

 

Colombian Lutheran Bishop Eduardo Martinez
Colombian Lutheran Bishop Eduardo Martinez and his wife, Yamile Varon, work with U.S. and Latin American partners to fight HIV/AIDS.

I first met Martinez at a July 2010 consultation in Lima, Peru. That event gathered the ELCA's Latin American companions to discuss how they're reducing stigma and discrimination, while developing resources and strategies that combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. This past May, Martinez and his wife, Yamile Varon, also visited the ELCA offices in Chicago, where I work with the ELCA Malaria Campaign and HIV/AIDS strategy.

In the U.S., approximately 1.2 million people live with HIV/AIDS. In Colombia, about 160,000 people live with the disease, according to the CIA World Factbook. Behind these numbers are the same concerns: people who suffer, families stretched thin as they provide care, and the way poverty and a lack of affordable medication contribute to the risk and vulnerability of our populations.


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