AMERICAN BAPTIST RESOLUTION ON THE AIDS CRISIS
We worship and follow Jesus Christ whose Gospel is a call to healing
(Matthew 4:23-25). We recognize that we are called and empowered by God
to be agents of healing (Matthew 10:8, 25:31-46, Luke 9:11). The world
and our nation face the Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic, a medical condition
characterized by an acquired breakdown in the body's natural immunity
The AIDS Virus, HIV, newly infects 16,000 people a day. 30.6 million are
living with the virus.
The United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Health
Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention present the
5.8 million people have been newly infected with HIV by the end of 1997.
2.3 million people will die of AIDS in 1997.
1.1 million children under age 15 have HIV.
8.2 million uninfected children have lost parents to AIDS.
1 in 4 new HIV infections are in people under the age of 25.
Women are the fastest growing population with AIDS. Heterosexual
transmission is responsible for the rapid increase.
The progress from HIV infection to AIDS can be slowed or temporarily
halted by use of combinations of HIV specific drugs that fight the virus
by slowing down or preventing viral replication. The goal of all
anti-HIV treatment is for those infected to remain healthier, feel well
and live longer. There is, however, no cure or vaccine for HIV yet.
The HIV virus is transmitted by intimate sexual contact, by contact with
contaminated blood supplies, by use of contaminated needles, and during
pregnancy from infected mother to fetus. The virus is not transmitted
through casual contact such as sharing a home, school or work
environment, eating, touching, etc.
The first cases of HIV/AIDS in the United States were among homosexual
men and intravenous drug users; more recently there has been an increase
among the general public. The majority of HIV/AIDS cases in other parts
of the world have been among heterosexual men and women. Because
HIV/AIDS often results from what most people consider unacceptable
sexual and social behavior, there has been a reluctance to address the
reality of HIV/AIDS as a major issue which impacts us all.
Given the epidemic proportions of the HIV/AIDS crisis, the fact that at
the present time HIV/AIDS is a fatal disease, and that HIV/AIDS presents
us with that which is unknown, menacing and incurable, there is a
specter of fear and paranoia for multitudes. Due to the fear of and
ignorance about the disease, rejection of those who have HIV/AIDS is
common. Such rejection causes additional emotional pain for these
persons, their families, and their friends. American Baptist
individuals, families and congregations have not been immune to the
tragedy brought on by this disease. Many within our denomination suffer
in silence, not knowing what response they may receive from their
congregations if they make known their own struggle or that of a loved
In obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ's call to heal, to bear the truth
and to cast out fear we call on all American Baptists and our churches
1. Recognize the HIV/AIDS crisis as an opportunity for the caring and
educational ministries of our churches.
2. Declare that HIV/AIDS should be viewed as an illness and affirm our
belief that the loving God revealed in Jesus Christ does not inflict
illness as punishment.
3. Teach, preach and live in ways which reflect Christ's call for the
stewardship of our bodies as God's gifts.
4. Encourage and offer prayers for the healing of persons living with
AIDS and HIV Infection, insight for researchers, and strength for
caregivers, families and loved ones.
5. Minister with love and support as faithful servants to those in the
midst of sickness, pain and death.
6. Teach and preach in such a way that the fears and appeals to
prejudice and hysteria surrounding this global crisis will be mitigated.
7. Teach and preach the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of
the HIV/AIDS crisis to the end of bringing about healing, hope and
Furthermore, we call upon American Baptist Churches to encourage
and public health agencies to:
1. Support increased funding for HIV/AIDS research and long term care.
2. Seek to insure the protection of civil and human rights and adequate
medical care for all persons affected directly or indirectly by AIDS and
3. Support those educational and technological means which will reduce
the spread of HIV Infection.
4. Work to eliminate discrimination in all sectors of life against those
thought to have HIV.
5. Respond to the global HIV/AIDS crisis through the national and
international structures of churches, government and health
Adopted by the General Board of the American Baptist Churches - June
170 FOR, 3 NO, 2 ABSTENTIONS
Revised by the Executive Committee of the General Board - September 1989
Modified by the Executive Committee of the General Board - March 1992
Modified by the Executive Committee of the General Board - September
(General Board Reference - #8165:9/89)
Policy Statement on Health Care
1. Make health care resources, private and public, available in keeping
with the total needs of people. . .
2. Direct health care resources toward the prevention of disease and the
maintenance of health as well as toward the treatment of illness.
Policy Statement on Human Rights
1. The right to the basic necessities of food, shelter, clothing, and
2. The right to human dignity, to be respected and treated as a person,
and to be protected against discrimination without regard to age, sex,
race, class, marital status, income, national origin, legal status,
culture or condition in society.
Policy Statement on Health, Healing and Wholeness
Statement of Concern - A.I.D.S.: Care and Prevention