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World AIDS Day: Lending Hope to Africa

By Sonja Egeland Kelly

AIDS continues to devastate sub-Saharan Africa. Thirty million people have died already, leaving 14 million orphans behind. Without decisive action, millions more will die, at the rate of over 6,600 a day. This figure is likely to increase because of the 9,500 new daily infections in Africa alone.

Today marks World AIDS Day. The day is meant to raise awareness on behalf of those living with the disease, on behalf of those fighting for a cure and on behalf of those left behind by the pandemic.

There is an unquestionable link between poverty and AIDS. When AIDS strikes, family income drops by 40 to 80 percent and medical expenses increase by 400 percent. As a result, many families are forced to choose between using their limited resources for food or medicine.

Recognizing the severity of the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, Opportunity International is committed to breaking the devastating spiral of poverty and AIDS in Africa. To help families in these devastating circumstances, Opportunity has set out to do the following: provide loans for families afflicted and affected by HIV/AIDS; empower these families economically to take in and support orphans; and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS by empowering women economically, socially and spiritually, and by providing HIV/AIDS education.

That last objective – education – is Opportunity’s primary strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. Opportunity focuses on providing training to Trust Groups – communities of 10 to 30 impoverished adults, mostly women – that receive group-guaranteed microloans. The Trust Groups meet weekly to conduct the general business of making loan payments and collecting savings, and incorporate HIV/AIDS prevention and education into their curriculum.

Thank you for your support as Opportunity lends hope to Africa.

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