CBE And The Spread Of HIV In Sub-Saharan Africa -- By: Catherine Clark Kroeger

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 09:3 (Summer 1995)
Article: CBE And The Spread Of HIV In Sub-Saharan Africa
Author: Catherine Clark Kroeger

CBE And The Spread Of HIV In Sub-Saharan Africa

Catherine Clark Kroeger

CBE President

In the fight against AIDS, the United Nations has called upon religious organizations to help. Did you know that in sub-Saharan Africa (the so-called “AIDS Belt”) girls and women under twenty-five are the population segment most heavily infected with HIV and AIDS? The United Nations Development Program reports that “the infection rate among women peaks between the age of fifteen and twenty-five, some five to ten years earlier than among men.” Men coerce young girls into sexual relationships because these men fear contact with older women who may be infected. There are tragic instances of schoolgirls being victimized by their teachers. Frequently the girls are unable “to refuse sex or to insist on condom use because of lower social, legal and economic status.”

The net result is a terrible infection rate in very young women, some of whom are already weakened by inadequate nutrition. Many of the men — even if they know they have AIDS — refuse to use condoms (“It would be like eating a sweet with the wrapper still on.”). A married woman whose husband has AIDS must still grant him marital privileges or risk severe beatings and/or divorce. Many transmit the virus to their unborn children. Women widowed by AIDS frequently find themselves destitute as the deceased man’s relatives may claim virtually all the marital property, even to the bed on which she sleeps. In sub-Saharan Africa, six women are becoming infected for every five men.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations maintain that women can be taught to understand their own worth and go on “to teach each other ... and they can be persistent in voicing their opinions on AIDS to each other, and to men.” So said Dr. Michael Merson, head of the World Health Organization’s Global Program on AIDS at a meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland in September of 1993 (reported in WorldAIDS, November, 1993).

While Her Honor Eva Sanderson of Zambia’s Copperbelt AIDS prevention project explained all this at the 1995 Global Consultation On World Evangelization, I leaned forward incredulously to ask more questions. As my name tag swung forward, she noticed my name and asked, “Are you the one who wrote I Suffer Not a Woman?” Rather surprised that she would know of the book, I affirmed my identity, and she said, “Every single day I go to the book table to see if I can find that book.”

Now I was even more incredulous. What could a detailed exegetical study of I Timothy 2:12 — or any part of CBE’s message — possibly have to do with the spread of AIDS in Zambia? The answer turned out to be “everything.” As men and women come to understand the spiritual worth of wo...

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