At a centre in Nepal, Catholic sisters care for women and children who are living with HIV. Women at the centre embroider saris to earn money. Photo by Laura Sheahen/Caritas

In Washington, D.C. to attend the International AIDS Conference, Finola Finnan of Trocaire (Caritas Ireland) delivered an address to the White House Forum for Faith Leaders. As Chairperson of the Catholic HIV/AIDS Network (CHAN), Finnan spoke about how many Church-related organisation provide not just medicine, but care for the whole person. Read an excerpt below and then read the address.

…I visited Makondo in Uganda, where the Medical Missionaries had lived and worked in the community for over fifty years. They were there through Amin’s time, through Obote’s and Museveni’s – they were there at the advent of AIDS. Their response was truly comprehensive – they provided support for orphaned and vulnerable children; an efficient and well-run clinic; treatment and referrals for Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV; home care visits; livelihoods for children who had lost their parents; a roof for a family that had no money to repair it; and nutritional support for those who needed it to stay on treatment.

Our final visit was to a woman who was dying of an AIDS-related tumour. She was a young woman with young children. She was in incredible pain. The home-based care (HBC) team were helping her to die with dignity, helping her husband and children to make the transition to a life without her. They brought prayers, support and medication. The HBC volunteers were from her community, providing a safe space to ensure that she was able to live and to die with dignity.

Read the address