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The Catholic Church has a proven record of providing compassionate care through its many global programs and initiatives. SECCAM focuses attention on the People of God in the Southeastern region of the U.S. who are at risk of HIV infection and whose access to medical care and treatment from federal and state-funded secular AIDS service organizations is very limited or non-existent.
Our increasing concern stems from recent public health data showing that the South, specifically, now accounts for the highest number of new infections; the largest number of people living with AIDS; and the greatest number of AIDS-related deaths. We are witnessing the devastation this epidemic is causing among our friends and families, in our parishes and in the general community.
We have seen how AIDS keeps increasingly snatching precious lives among our youth, the poor, the elderly and the marginalized. There are unique challenges faced by persons impacted by HIV and AIDS in the region; the shortage of medical specialists in rural areas, the wide-spread lack of awareness, the ingrained stigma and consequent discrimination, all converge in a humanitarian crisis deserving of an immediate and focused Christ-like response.