Kay Warren is an evangelical leader, author, AIDS activist, and co-founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with her husband, Rick, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a single family to fill the pews. Today it has 120-acre campus, 22,000 weekly attendees, and has provided spiritual guidance and source material to over 400,000 ministers worldwide.
In 2002, Warren became "seriously disturbed" by the scope of the AIDS epidemic; she has since set up an AIDS ministry at Saddleback and spoken out about the disease around the world. Warren is the co-founder and co-director (with her husband) of The Global PEACE Fund, which fights poverty, disease, and illiteracy.
Warren has spoken to the United Nations Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. In 2006, Warren was among eight women honored for their humanitarian efforts at the CNN Inspire Summit. Warren is the author of Foundations Participant's Guide and Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God.
Question: Is the President’s AIDS plan working?
Warren: Well the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief I think is actually one of the boldest moves that any President has made about HIV. There really isn’t anybody who has done as much as he has to committing U.S. funds to the fight against HIV. And if you’re asking do I think that his approach about prevention, I think there’s some confusion over that. Some people talk about abstinence only, when really if you look at the information, it’s including abstinence. I completely disagree with those who would want to do away with talking to people about abstinence. My own view of it is that . . . that all approaches are needed. It’s not just this. It’s not just this. It’s not just that. I do not believe that the solution to HIV/AIDS is to condomize the whole world. That is not the total solution. Neither do I believe that just telling people to abstain from sexual relationships is the whole answer. I think it’s much more complex than that, and I think the President’s plan includes all those different approaches. I don’t know how anybody can really argue that for two people to remain virgins until they get married . . . how can anybody say that doesn’t protect you against HIV or any other sexually transmitted disease? It does. How can anybody say being faithful in your relationships – not having multiple partners, not having affairs, not having concurrent partners – how can anybody say that being faithful doesn’t protect you against HIV? It does. But I would also say how can anybody say that . . . that the consistent and correct use of condoms if you’re gonna have sexual intercourse . . . how can anybody say that doesn’t add some protection against HIV? So to me it’s really all of it. but this is where I disagree with some folks as well. I think we’ve given into the lower goal – the lower goal of just managing HIV. I wanna end it. I wanna stop it. I’m not content with just managing this virus that destroys families; that kills men and women in the prime of their lives; that leaves children with no parents. I’m not content with that in any way that I would be content with just trying to manage polio, or just manage smallpox, or to just try and manage cancer. What’s our goal for all of that? It’s to get rid of it. So I would love to stop HIV. And I think that if we just talk about correcting . . . correct and consistent condom use, and limiting the number of partners, and needle exchange – offering needle exchange – and waiting for sexual debut – waiting until you’re older to have sex – that’s one way to slow it. But I think if we wanna stop it, which is my goal . . . It’s a very audacious goal, and most people would say it’s not possible, but it is my goal. That's gonna require men and women to make (29:01) commitments to being virgins. It’s gonna require people teaching men and boys how to respect women and girls. A lot of women and girls aren’t really given choices around the world. They are victims of gender violence. They’re abused. They’re taken advantage of. And until men really will decide that they’re gonna respect women, and not violate them, and not force them into sexual encounters, then that’s gonna make it difficult to stop it. And until I think we open the door to the church as the church around the world being a part of the solution to HIV – both prevention, care, treatment, and support; and then unless we make a commitment to stay faithful to one partner for life, I don’t think we can stop it. Recorded on: 12/11/07