Today is the 20th annual World AIDS Day, a day when individuals and organizations from around the world come together to bring attention to the global AIDS epidemic.

AIDS and hunger are closely intertwined. AIDS is rapidly spreading in the most impoverished areas of the world—places where education, women’s and children’s rights, and peace are hard to come by. Many areas, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, are trapped in a vicious cycle in which the symptoms of poverty facilitate the spread of the disease while the lives and productivity lost to the pandemic further impoverish vulnerable communities. Moreover, AIDS is especially devastating to hungry persons. Malnourished persons cannot take anti-retroviral drugs—an empty stomach cannot handle the powerful medicine. In the absence of drugs and adequate nutrition, HIV develops into AIDS more quickly. Once a person has AIDS, more food is needed to fight the illness and counteract weight loss.

Back in August, ELCA World Hunger sent representatives to the 17th International AIDS Conference. Over the next few days we’ll be posting some of their insights gleaned from the experience. Today, let us recommit ourselves to living for the most vulnerable people in own world.

-David Creech