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On 1 December, the first Sunday of Advent this year, is World AIDS Day, established in 1988 by the World Health Organisation and marked also by UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank. In our
prayer and liturgy, we remember Jesus’ words, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Let us pray for God’s mercy and healing and ask the Lord to make everyone involved both
compassionate and generous, with the grace to see and the strength to do.

IMCS Hosts the African Jesuit AIDS Network and UNAIDS

On 10 December, International Human Rights Day, the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN) will be publicly launched. When we think about HIV/AIDS, we should also think about human rights, the
basic and universally-recognised minimum standards which help to guarantee human life. That is why 10 December seems such a good day to launch AJAN in the presence of representatives of UNAIDS: Mme.
Yamina Chakkar, Country Programme Adviser for Togo and Benin, and Mr. Calle Almedal, Senior Adviser, UNAIDS Geneva.

In each African country where Jesuits are, AJAN hopes to develop an
appropriate social ministry that is deeply-rooted amongst those who suffer, that accompanies those who care for them, that is sensitive to the local culture, faith and spirituality, and that collaborates
widely with others. AJAN aims to bring the patchwork of current Jesuit efforts together into an effective continental network with national projects that communicate and co-ordinate with each other,
forming the basis of the African Jesuits’ corporate response to AIDS.

The launch takes place during the 8th Pan-African Assembly of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS –
Pax Romana) which runs 7-20 December with participants from all over Africa. Pan-African chaplain of IMCS is Étienne Triaille SJ, based in Nairobi. “In solidarity against stigma and for the prevention of
AIDS on our campuses” is the major aim of the Assembly, and it is the new programme which IMCS is taking up during the coming year. And rightly so, because the social stigma and exclusion multiply the
sufferings of those who have AIDS and make the pandemic all the more devastating.

The taboos, myths, ignorance, confusion and silence around AIDS are significant factors in complicating the
struggle against AIDS in Africa. UNAIDS has made the fight against stigma and discrimination its campaign theme in 2002-2003 with the slogan “Live and Let Live.” The campaign focuses on eliminating stigma
and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. Catholic Students can play a major role in such a campaign, and so the opportunity to work together — UNAIDS, IMCS and AJAN — is very welcome and timely.

The conference is being held at the Centre ODSTA in Agoue-Nyive on the outskirts of Lomé, in Togo, one of the ten countries in which the West African Province is located. Father Provincial Jean-Roger
Ndombi said: “I am happy to welcome the new African Jesuit AIDS Network and its co-ordinator Fr. Michael Czerny. And I am happy too as one of the ten Major Superiors in Africa who decided last June to
intensify the struggle against AIDS by setting up AJAN as a common and shared work. We Provincials hope that this new effort, supporting what is already being done in each of the twenty-five African
countries where there are Jesuits, will permit to reinforce, develop and multiply the appropriate responses to HIV/AIDS

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