"Sermons about how to avoid AIDS are good but provide no solace to those 40 million already infected with the virus," said Franklin Graham during a Prescription for Hope conference held in Washington, D.C. last year. "As the church of Christ, we must reach out with open arms in love, encouragement and compassion rather than condemnation."

 

Taking those words to heart, Graham's international relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, is actively involved on the front lines of the pandemic. The organization's latest effort brought together 150 leading Christian HIV/AIDS workers from across Africa to attend Prescription For Hope - Africa.

 

From Feb. 10-13, HIV/AIDS caregivers, pastors and health professionals met in Kampala, Uganda to share their successes and strategies.

 

Ken Isaacs, the international director of projects for Samaritan's Purse, spoke with Crosswalk.com a few days after returning from Uganda. "We chose East Africa for a regional conference for a variety of reasons. We have a lot of program activity there, from AIDS education to refugee feeding to hospitals in Sudan to war relief."

 

Most importantly, according to Isaacs, "Uganda is the only country in the world demonstrating success in stemming their prevalence rate, which went from nearly 30 percent to about 5 percent."

 

While some may debate the accuracy of the figures, said Isaacs, "nobody disagrees that the country of Uganda is not successful. The extent of success is the only debateable issue."

 

According to Isaacs, "Dating back to 1986-87, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has taken bold and dynamic leadership on the HIV/AIDS issue and he has never failed to bring it up in his speeches. He has really raised public awareness.

 

"His wife, Janet Museveni, has been a leading advocate in the Christian community for full-fledged action and responsibility," Isaacs continued. "Both of them have heavily promoted programs based on abstinence, fidelity and monogamy. There is conclusive evidence that Uganda's HIV rate has gone down and it's due to the programmatic approach they have taken."

 

Isaacs explained that Mrs. Museveni is "very outspoken" in her belief in Jesus Christ. "She is very comfortable talking to Believers - teaching them and challenging them. She is a very gracious lady."

 

Because Uganda has taken this approach, said Isaacs, it has been successful. "So, you know what? If you want to learn how to do something, you want to go to somebody who knows how to do it."

 

One of the conference speakers talked about the fear that Ugandan people have lived with for years. He quoted an HIV-positive woman who said, "What do I have to fear? I am living with a killer in me."