Why is AIDS on the rise in America?

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.

  • Transcript


Question: Why is AIDS on the rise in America?

Warren: I think there’s some fatigue – AIDS fatigue. People are tired of having to be so careful. I think people get . . . I think a couple of things. One, they’re not informed. It’s amazing to me, 26 years after this epidemic was discovered here, how many people still don’t know. They don’t have the correct information about HIV – how it’s transmitted; how you get it; how you protect yourself against it. It’s amazing! I talked to a high school student who lives next door to me a couple of years ago, and I was saying, “So you talk about HIV in school, right?” And she said, “You know I think they may have spent five minutes on it in a health class.” And I’m like five minutes on the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world, and we expect our students and teenagers to know? If parents aren’t doing a good job talking about it, and the schools aren’t doing a good job talking about it, there’s something wrong there. So we’ve gotta do a better job educating and informing people. And I think secondly there is a reluctance in our culture to put any limitations on ourselves, any limitations on our sexuality. There is an increasingly, I would say, attitude in . . . just even watching TV in which people are encouraged to explore sexuality. And if you do that without the confines of faithful relationships, without the confines of commitments to each other, then STDs and HIV are gonna rise. There’s . . . there’s just no two ways about it. I don’t know if you’ve . . . You probably know this, but if there are about a million people in the United States who are HIV positive, there are about 65 million people with STDs. That’s a lot of sexually transmitted diseases, and people are gonna need to do some behavior change. And we don’t like that. We don’t like anybody telling us that we need to put any kind of limitations. But it is for our own health. It’s for the health of the people that we’re with; for our children. To me it just makes sense.

Recorded on: 12/11/07