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A combination of crop and tree production on farmland. It often uses trees for multiple purposes, such as:

  • preventing erosion
  • improving soil fertility
  • providing food, fuel, lumber or animal fodder


AIDS, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a fatal disease caused by HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV destroys the body's ability to fight off infection and disease, which can ultimately lead to death. Currently, antiretroviral drugs slow down replication of the virus and can greatly enhance quality of life, but they do not eliminate HIV infection. [source: UNAIDS]


In 2003, Catholic Relief Services became the lead agency in a public-private consortium known as AIDSRelief, which is funded through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR. The CRS-led alliance includes the University of Maryland's Institute of Human Virology, Constella Futures, Catholic Medical Mission Board and IMA World Health.

AIDSRelief is responding to the HIV crisis by expanding access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy, supporting the delivery of HIV care and treatment to poor and underserved people in Guyana, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

antiretroviral therapy

Antiretroviral drugs, a combination of medicines that helps reverse the progression of HIV in the body, became available in 1996, but the therapy was too expensive at the time to be a viable option for many of the people Catholic Relief Services assisted. These days, the agency delivers antiretroviral therapy through our work with AIDSRelief.

Antiretroviral medications must be taken daily for the rest of the patient's life—with no exceptions—to prevent drug resistance, but adherence can prolong the patient's life and delay onset of the opportunistic infections that are ultimately the cause when we say someone has "died of AIDS." By taking the powerful antiretroviral drugs, a mother can dramatically reduce the likelihood of passing HIV on to her infant. Newborns can also receive antiretroviral medications to further suppress virus transmission.

A significant complication of antiretroviral therapy is that patients need a sufficient, balanced diet for the antiretroviral drugs to work optimally. Without enough protein and the right micronutrients, infections are much more likely. HIV increases the body's demand for vitamins E and C, beta carotene, and zinc. Just to maintain basic health, users of antiretrovirals need more food than they normally would. Lack of food—or the money to buy it—is the number one concern expressed by antiretroviral therapy patients.

Caritas Internationalis

A confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations working in 200 countries and territories. Caritas Internationalis is headquartered in Vatican City. Catholic Relief Services is a member of the Caritas network.


CRS looks for ways to help people with more than just handouts. Our short-term response to an emergency often includes paying residents in cash or food to help with reconstruction. The work community members do can help mitigate the effects of the next disaster—whether it be war, food shortages or severe weather. Cash-for-work also supports local employment and income.

Catholic social teaching

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, "The Church's social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society." Catholic Relief Services' Guiding Principles draw from the themes of Catholic social teaching.

environment/environmental stewardship

Catholic Relief Services works in many isolated, remote areas with harsh climates and fragile, degraded ecosystems. Farmers dislike working these areas because of their undependable, hostile climates and poor natural resources, but faced with desperate poverty, the farmers often have little choice.

CRS upholds stewardship as one of our guiding principles, believing that there is an inherent integrity to all of creation that requires careful stewardship of all our resources, ensuring that we use and distribute them justly and equitably, as well as planning for future generations. Much of the work of CRS, particularly access to water and food, depends upon equitable sharing of resources and universal care of all creation.

Learn more about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' teachings about environmental stewardship and justice.


See cash-for-work/food-for-work.


See AIDS and HIV.

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