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.
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 […]
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 […]
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; […]
Eliminating New HIV Infections in Children: Report Assesses Catholic Organizations’ Engagement with Global Plan
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
“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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Caritas Internationalis and its HAART for Children campaign is playing a key role in the UNAIDS “Global Plan Towards The Elimination Of New HIV Infections Among Children By 2015 And Keeping Their Mothers Alive”.
HAART is an acronym for “High Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment”. In 2009, Caritas Internationalis launched its “HAART for Children Campaign” in order to promote greater access to pediatric HIV and TB testing and treatment and scale-up programmes to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV”.
At that time, 800 children were dying every day of AIDS related diseases. Their deaths were preventable. They were caused because the children had no access to early diagnosis of HIV or to child-friendly medicines to treat this deadly virus.
Approximately 90 percent of these children were infected in the womb, at birth, or through breastfeeding. Their HIV-positive mothers had no access to simple and inexpensive treatment that could prevent the transmission of the virus to […]