Dr. Donald E. Messer, executive director of the Center for the Church and Global AIDS of Centennial, Colo., has been elected by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee to serve as chairperson.

Messer succeeds Bishop Fritz Mutti and his wife Etta Mae Mutti, who have served as co-chairs of the committee since its inception in 2005. Under their leadership, more than $1.8 million has been raised to help fight the global HIV and AIDS pandemic internationally. The Global AIDS Fund has provided grants to nearly 70 HIV/AIDS projects in more than 20 countries around the world.

The Global AIDS Fund Committee is charged with overseeing the promotion, use, supervision and distribution of the fund.

Messer wrote the original legislation adopted by the 2004 General Conference that established the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund to be used to support programs offering HIV and AIDS education, prevention, treatment and care services in the U.S. and around the world. The goal is to raise at least $8 million for HIV/AIDS.

"Those who are infected with HIV/AIDS experience not only the effects of this devastating disease, but also extreme stigmatization and discrimination. As disciples of Jesus Christ, United Methodists are called to continue his healing ministry to the most marginalized in the world," said Messer.

According to the UNAIDS 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, there were 2.7 million new HIV infections and 2 million HIV-related deaths last year. Two-thirds of the estimated 33 million people living with HIV are in Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 370,000 children under age 15 became infected with HIV in 2007.

To support the Global AIDS Fund, one can donate online at www.gbgm-umc.org, contribute through any local United Methodist Church, or send gifts to: UMCOR Advance #982345 Global AIDS Fund, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. One can also call 1-800-554-8583 to make a credit card donation. For more information, visit the www.globalaidsfund.org or www.gbgm-umc.org/umcor.