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Catholic Advocacy Extends PEPFAR's 'Lazarus Effect'

Thanks to your prayers, generous support and advocacy efforts over the last decade, hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of death have returned to life in some of the poorest places in the world. Parents with HIV, too weak to work or care for their children, have experienced what's been called the Lazarus effect, thanks to the care and treatment made possible by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Students in Tanzania will have a brighter future, thanks to CRS' ongoing orphans and vulnerable children projects.

Students in Tanzania have a brighter future thanks to CRS projects for orphans and vulnerable children made possible through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDSRelief, or PEPFAR. Photo by David Snyder for CRS

PEPFAR, introduced in 2004 under President George W. Bush, is one of the most successful international assistance programs that the United States has ever undertaken. Catholic Relief Services is working with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to ensure that the Lazarus effect continues now that PEPFAR must be reauthorized by Congress. We strongly believe that our blessed nation must continue its commitment to combating HIV and AIDS worldwide.

The Catholic Church is a major provider of HIV services around the world. Pope Francis has certainly shown his deep concern for people suffering from the virus. As a cardinal, he demonstrated compassion for people with HIV by visiting a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients. In many countries, the Catholic Church and other faith communities are providing care, treatment and support, especially in the most isolated communities.

CRS has been part of the Church's response to the HIV pandemic and has effectively used PEPFAR grants to save lives. In 2004, a CRS-led partnership known as AIDSRelief began implementing a major PEPFAR grant in 10 countries. Since then, CRS has supported 276 health facilities and delivered HIV care and treatment to more than 700,000 people, including nearly 400,000 who enrolled in lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.

The Catholic community in the United States played a huge role in the passage of the initial PEPFAR legislation and the 2008 reauthorization. Now, your voice is needed again to make sure this lifesaving work continues. Send a personalized email to your representative and senators today urging them to pass the PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act of 2013 as introduced. Make sure you let them know why you care about this issue. Your voice can save lives.

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