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> 2012-07-19 12:42:20
Turning the tide on HIV-AIDS
(Vatican Radio) How successful has the Catholic Church been in responding to the AIDS crisis? What do faith groups offer people living with HIV that may not be available from secular sources? And how can the Church maintain its AIDS ministry effectively in the face of funding cutbacks and shortages?
All these questions will be on the table at a Catholic AIDS conference being held in Washington DC this weekend, ahead of the UN International AIDS Conference due to open in the US capital on Sunday.
The UN meeting, which concludes on Friday 27th has taken as its theme ‘Turning the Tide Together’. A staggering 30.000 scientists, activists, researchers, health care professionals, celebrities, philanthropists and experts of all kinds will be reviewing progress over the past two years and discussing new ways of winning the battle against the global HIV pandemic.
Among the participants at both events is Msg Robert Vitillo, special advisor on HIV-AIDS to the worldwide Caritas confederation. He spoke with Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen about his hopes for the UN meeting and the focus of the Catholic conference which opens this Friday…..
“We certainly have had very good results with the people who’re getting access to ARV treatments - right now about half of the people who need the treatment are getting access, which is much better than it was when we started 10 years ago to bring ARV to the developing countries…
At the same time I think this theme is a sign of people realising we can no longer see it simply as a medical problem….
The conference organisers have set a number of goals … to make the prevention revolution real, expanding testing and treatment, ensuring appropriate funding for key vulnerable populations, turning the tide on TB and AIDS and then a cure for HIV…..
Finally it seems that some of the HIV specialists realise that the previous approaches taken in the northern countries, focusing on the distribution of condoms, I think some of the specialists at least realise we need a much more integrated approach to the social, economic and spiritual issues…
For many years now we’ve convened a Catholic pre-conference as we think it’s very important for those working in Catholic programmes to be able to come together and reflect on the Church’s teaching at the root of why we do this work in HIV and AIDS…
(Prevention of mother to child transmission) has been quite successful in encouraging pregnant women to be tested early and access treatment….. I think a realistic goal of eliminating new infections in children by 2015, but the key is keeping the mothers alive and well…
Another interesting finding from the study (by Catholic HIV AIDS Network) was that the Catholic programmes take a family approach to treatment and prevention… encouraging couples to be tested together and to see this as a family problem…
(Funding cutbacks) are a very serious concern – last year we did a study on the impact of cutbacks that were already being seen – whole families being told to select one family member to go on treatment….
The fact that the conference has returned to the US is significant ……at the same time there are many models been developed by churches in Africa, Asia, Latin America and we must be more open to learning from them…”