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UM Global AIDS Fund Aims at Saving Newborns from HIV

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2013

Denver, Colorado — The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund (UMGAF) Committee announced they will initiate a one-year focus on preventing transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to babies during pregnancy, labor, delivery or breastfeeding as part of their new Just Save One initiative. Just Save One emphasizes how even a small gift can make a big difference to one person living with HIV or AIDS.

According to the World Health Organization, mother to child transmission rates range from 15-45 percent in the absence of any interventions. This rate can be reduced to levels below five percent with effective interventions. Offering pregnant women testing and treatment is an important step towards reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS by preventing transmission to their babies-at a very low cost.

"Every child has the right to be born free of HIV and AIDS," said Dr. Donald Messer, co-chair of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee. "United Methodists have an opportunity to be at the forefront of efforts to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV by 2015. Babies in the United States are rarely born with AIDS. We can help stop the transmission globally."

UNICEF reports that 1,000 babies are born each day with HIV. For World AIDS Day, on December 1, UMGAF has produced an Advent study on HIV/AIDS, as well as resources that bring attention to the issue. The resources are available at umglobalaidsfund.com.

Recently, UMGAF funded a project in Uganda providing education to mothers about HIV and the transmission of AIDS to newborns. The "Sustainable Action for the Rural Sector" (SARS) is a Shalom initiative focusing on community education, testing and counseling. Babies born with HIV comprise 22 percent of all persons infected with HIV in this East African nation. SARS is a registered national local NGO focusing on rural health, education and sustainable livelihoods, focused on women, youth and children in the most vulnerable rural communities.

Meeting in Denver, Colorado earlier this month, the UMGAF Committee also decided to follow a series of successful "Lighten the Burden" conferences with an expanded conference on September 11-13, 2014. Countdown to Zero: Just Save One will include four separate tracks: fundraising training, Native Americans and HIV, Latina women and HIV and general education/advocacy. The conference will take place at the Renaissance Denver Hotel in Denver, Colorado. More information will be available in the coming months.

Additionally, the Committee passed a motion to encourage annual conferences to honor their financial commitments to Imagine No Malaria, which has raised $53 million in donations and pledges to date.

To Just Save One, drop a check in the offering plate. Make it payable to your local church with UMCOR Advance #982345 in the memo line, or send it to P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Additionally, consider maximizing your gift by donating to UMGAF on December 3 as part of the national movement #GivingTuesday. On this day, online donations made through The Advance at umcmission.org/give will be matched up to $500,000.

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Media contact:
Diane Degnan
ddegnan@umcom.org
615-742-5406 (office)
615-483-1765 (cell)