December 18, 2012

Caritas concerned for migrant health on World Migrants Day

By |18 December 2012|

By Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Head of Delegation to the UN in Geneva In many countries of the world, in both global North and global South, much attention is given to the legal status of migrants. As we observe World Migration Day 2012, Caritas Internationalis wishes to call attention to the full range of needs of migrants, including their right to enjoy good health as well as access to health care. Much discrimination is experienced by migrants as a result of national and local health policies that are founded on such factors as racial, ethnic, cultural and religious prejudice; xenophobia; fear that migrants drain financial resources from a host population; and misunderstanding or misperception of the contributions made by migrants to host populations. Faith-inspired organisations, such as Caritas, engage in health-related advocacy with migrants in order to assure equitable access to health care, in accord with the vision developed by [...]

World AIDS Day: “Where have we gone, where are we going?

By |1 December 2012|

World leaders gathered at UN headquarters in June 2011 to assess progress in the global AIDS response. They noted that global HIV incidence was declining, access to combination anti-retroviral treatment was expanding, and a global movement had been mobilized to respect and protect the dignity of all affected by HIV.

November 30, 2012

World AIDS Day in Papua New Guinea

By |30 November 2012|

The Catholic Church’s work on HIV and AIDS in Mendi stretches back to 1995. Then the work revolved around explaining the virus, how it is transmitted and challenging the stigma attached to those people living with HIV.

World AIDS Day

By |29 November 2012|

More than 30 years into the pandemic, UNAIDS estimates that 34.2 million people worldwide are living with HIV. This number includes an estimated 3.4 million children under the age of 15 years. The number of people living with HIV increases each year because fewer people are dying, thanks to the increasing availability of lifesaving antiretroviral medication. The number of people receiving medication rose by 20 percent between 2010 and 2011. Meanwhile, the cost of a year's supply of the medication decreased from more than $10,000 per person in 2000 to less than $100 in 2011. Despite this progress, HIV still presents a serious global health crisis. In 2011, more than 7,000 people were infested every day. Catholic Relief Services (a caritas member in the US)  has been on the forefront of the epidemic since launching our first HIV project in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1986. Today, CRS and its partners directly support more than [...]

HIV prevention: “Where are the men?”

By |8 November 2012|

Catholic Church-inspired organisations discuss lack of involvement among men in the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission By Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS and Francesca Matera, Geneva delegation volunteer In many countries, pregnant women must seek permission from their husbands before accessing a simple HIV test that could be the determining factor for future health, illness or even death, both for themselves and their babies. Some women do not return for their test results because they fear the negative, or even violent, reactions of their husbands should the test be positive for HIV. And some HIV-positive women refuse to avail themselves of prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) programmes, again out of fear of male reactions and rejection from the extended family.

October 26, 2012

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    HIV/AIDS responses in Asia: Growing together with Catholic values

HIV/AIDS responses in Asia: Growing together with Catholic values

By |26 October 2012|

By Francesca Matera, Volunteer at CI Delegation to the UN in Geneva Members of Catholic Asia-Pacific Coalition on HIV and AIDS (CAPCHA) met for the third time, on 10-13 September, at the Camillian Pastoral Center in Bangkok, , to discuss and report on the development of the work of care and prevention carried out by Catholic organizations around Asia. Fr. Giovanni Contarin, MI, Chairperson of Catholic Committee on HIV/AIDS in Thailand,  introduced this year’s theme, ‘Exchanging and Growing Together Within Catholic Values,’ with an inspiring welcome speech. Fr. Giovanni expressed appreciation for the work carried out by CAPCHA members and outlined the challenges that lay ahead. He mentioned, for example, the need to implement the United Nations Plan to address  Non-Communicable diseases and to join the global effort in the fight against HIV/AIDS by advancing the so-called ‘triple-zero’ target of no discrimination, no new HIV infections, and no deaths due to [...]

Prevention better than cure for non-communicable diseases

By |8 October 2012|

A diagnosis of cancer is devastating for anyone, but in many high-income countries, people receiving such news can be reassured that they will receive treatment and hopefully be cured.

July 26, 2012

Good progress on AIDS – but funding remains an issue

By |26 July 2012|

By the Rev. Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Cartitas Internationalis Special Adviser on HIV/AIDS, and Ms. Aurorita Mendoza, CI volunteer in Geneva As the days begin to wind down at the 19th International AIDS Conference, we’re hearing the good news – about an HIV-free generation, seeing the end of the epidemic, more and more people now receiving ARV treatment.  And indeed, the optimism has some basis. But let’s go a bit more deeply into both the progress and the challenges posed during this conference …  Much scientific progress has been made.  The virus can be kept in check with a range of better medications, which are effective both for treatment and for preventing further spread of the disease. The hope of discovering an HIV vaccine has been boosted by some initial results of a vaccine trial in Thailand; it showed only guarded results for protection of people from HIV infection but at least it renewed [...]

HIV care: the Catholic difference

By |25 July 2012|

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; [...]
  • Children need to eat nutritious food not only while taking ARVs, but also before starting treatment.

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    Eliminating New HIV Infections in Children: Report Assesses Catholic Organizations’ Engagement with Global Plan

Eliminating New HIV Infections in Children: Report Assesses Catholic Organizations’ Engagement with Global Plan

By |24 July 2012|

Washington, DC—A report assessing the engagement of Catholic organizations in The Global Plan towards Elimination of New HIV Infections in Children by 2015 and Keeping their Mothers Alive will be released to media at a press conference on Wednesday, July 25, at 3:00 pm. The study will also be presented that evening at 6:00 pm in the Faith Zone of the Global Village at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. The report, based on a survey by the Catholic HIV/AIDS Network (CHAN), documents the involvement of Catholic Church-related organizations with National AIDS Programs and their awareness and involvement in the Global Plan. “The Global Plan seeks involvement from religious organizations to encourage early testing and treatment for pregnant women living with HIV and their children,” said Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS for Caritas Internationalis. “The study findings indicate challenges that must be confronted by governments and churches alike in [...]

Keeping children HIV-free and keeping their mothers alive

By |24 July 2012|

By Msgr. Robert Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis Special Advisor on HIV/AIDS, and Ms. Aurorita Mendoza, Caritas Internationalis Volunteer in Geneva One year following the launch of the Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive, two-thirds of the 22 focus countries are showing good progress towards meeting their targets. UNAIDS timed its Progress Report on the Global Plan to coincide with the International AIDS Conference, held in Washington, DC, between 22-27 July 2012. UNAIDS reported an optimistic trend in the implementation of this comprehensive strategy to benefit pregnant women and children living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. The Plan was launched in June 2011, and aims to reduce the number of children infected by HIV by 90% by 2015 and to reduce pregnancy-related deaths among women with HIV by 50%. Of the 22 countries, eight – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, [...]

HIV survivor: Catholic centres ‘won’t turn us away’

By |23 July 2012|

By Monsignor Bob Vitillo “When I discovered I was HIV-positive, I was shocked and asked, ‘Why has God allowed this virus to maim and kill people? Does He still live in me? How?’” Spoken by a person living with HIV, these are words that caregivers in Catholic Church-inspired organizations have to face wherever we work. In addition to making sure we’re getting lifesaving medicine to the far corners of the developing world, in addition to making sure people are taking the right doses at the right times, in addition to keeping up with the latest medical advances, we have to think about the whole person— including the spiritual dimension of the disease. For the past few days, and for the rest of this week, I and my colleagues are focusing on all these questions at the 19th International Conference on HIV and AIDS in Washington, D.C. Those of us associated with Catholic organizations [...]

Compassion and Care for Nepal’s HIV patients

By |19 July 2012|

“My husband was getting sick a lot. He had tests—we went to different hospitals.” In the early 2000s, Manjula*, a woman raised in India but living in Nepal, was concerned that both her husband and small daughter were so often ill. “Then we went to a shaman. He said my husband got sick because he married a non-Nepali girl.” Neither shamans nor hospital doctors could pinpoint what was really wrong. Manjula’s daughter Sonam* “always got sick—fever, dizziness , fainting,” Manjula remembers. “They thought it was things like pneumonia. She’d take antibiotics.” After years of false leads, the family finally learned the truth: all three of them had HIV. “My husband was becoming thin as a stick,” says Manjula. “He died.” Manjula was left alone with Sonam and a second daughter, a baby who was HIV-negative. “It was difficult to get the treatment in the village,” she says. “I didn’t know anything about [...]

Faith Perspectives and AIDS

By |11 July 2012|

By Monsignor Bob Vitillo How does our faith anchor and propel the Catholic Church’s response to people living with HIV? In addition to providing the best care, HIV programs implemented by Catholic organizations must also be sources of compassion and strength. Science and technology are vital to health care, but pastoral accompaniment can make a critical difference to people living with or affected by HIV. This is one crucial message that Caritas will bring to the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. this month. The conference will be attended by overwhelming numbers (some 30,000 are expected!) of scientists, activists, researchers, people living with HIV and health care and social development professionals—everyone on the frontlines of the fight against AIDS. The IAC has been a rallying point for these different communities to highlight, disseminate and advocate for a wide range of issues that cover scientific and medical breakthroughs, epidemiological trends, programmatic achievements, and [...]

April 12, 2012

Pope meets with UNAIDS chief

By |12 April 2012|

Executive Director of UNAIDS Michel Sidibé was in Rome yesterday for meetings with Pope Benedict XVI, Holy See officials and Caritas Internationalis representatives. Sidibé asked Pope Benedict for his support in keeping children free from HIV. He said it’s an achievable goal and one which can be reached by 2015. “Millions of people around the world living with and affected by HIV are being supported by Catholic health care organisations,” said Mr Sidibé. “The full engagement of the Catholic Church in efforts to achieve zero new HIV infections among children is of paramount importance.” Listen to Philipp Hitchens interview with Michel Sidibé. UNAIDS and partners launched last year a Global Plan towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive. The plan outlines a strategy which focuses particularly on the 22 countries that account for more than 90 percent of new HIV infections […]

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