God, AIDS, Africa and HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

From Transgender to PrEP – good to know…

It’s time again to suggest some reading for the interested parties to get more insight in HIV and AIDS related matters:

Violence against women is not only in the USA but also in South Africa a very hot topic. The “Well-Project” has written about it and I am sure we all can learn from the extensive knowledge of these articles:
Violence against women and HIV

The CROI conferences are always a good source of new information. Here are the most important HIV research news from the 2015 conference:
6 important HIV research findings

The Body.Com is providing news and information about HIV on different levels. To download the app go here:
TheBody.com in the palm of your hand

The question of transmission between sero-different partners are often of great concern, read about the results of studies regarding gay sero-different couples:
No HIV transmission between serodifferent couples if undetectable load – preliminary results

PrEP – Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) works very well at preventing HIV transmission. Even if that is from a costing point still utopia for South African it is worth to read about it and its obstacles of perception:
How to overcome the challenges of accessing PrEP

Transgender people are having a difficult time – read about how transgender people fighting stigma and injustice:
How Transgender People fighting Stigma…

Starting early treatment gives you advantages – so get tested in times:
Starting HIV treatment early leads to better health..

Enjoy reading!

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Medical and Research, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We demand a cure

The HIV activist Larry Kramer from the US gave an impassioned speech calling for a cure for the virus at a Gay Men’s Health Crisis gala (23.3.2015). The 79-year-old activist said that he no longer has “any doubt that our government is content, via sins of omission or commission, to allow the extermination of my homosexual population to continue unabated,” pointing blame at the U.S. president, Congress, the National Institutes of Health, and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, for their inaction.

Even if this might be a bit of an overreaction, one can understand the frustration of being 34 years into the pandemic and a cure or a therapeutic vaccine seems to be far away. Knowing how much money has been gone to war and the destruction of people every year it is understandable that the plight and suffering of so many million people worldwide must cause an ongoing outcry. More so as it was the USA President Ronald Reagan who clearly missed the boat of stopping this pandemic in the early times because of his religious convictions not allowing to pay attention to the drama of gay people dying. He never acknowledged it contrary to the late Nelson Mandela, who also was silent during his tenure as president of the country. But he acknowledged at least afterwards that shying away from this topic because of his traditional upbringing was a big mistake affecting millions of South Africans.
It is true: We have achieved a lot – and for the first time a global initiative, the Global AIDS Fund, was able to coordinate the war against the pandemic on a global scale. But as time passes and medications are keeping the virus at least in the so-called developed countries at bay it seems the momentum is lost and there are only half-hearted efforts to stem the pandemic further. It seems that Ebola is now more frightening than HIV even if the numbers don’t match up at all.
I am convinced that if we don’t pay attention, HIV will come back to hunt the global village and when you have a close look at the development of multi-resistant TB it is only a question of time when this little bug called HI virus will go the same route. The human race tends to never learn that nature and creation on that level also strives for survival – and looking around and seeing all those infectious diseases and STIs we thought we have conquered and cornered: TB, polio, syphilis, Ebola… – there is still a long way to go and to underestimate a virus or bacteria has cost us dearly and will continue to do so.

Larry Kramer ended up his speech with: “We must aspire to a cure once and for all. Let’s demand a cure and a society that values people with HIV enough to pay for it. Only if we aspire to more can we demand more. Only if we demand more will we get more … The power to change history is still within our grasp. We cannot wait another 34 years. This evil still being waged against us must cease. The battle cry now must be one word: CURE. CURE. CURE.”

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No crime ever deserves the death penalty

It is amazing for me that I had to wait that long in my life to hear the clear words of a Pope condemning without reservation not only the death penalty but also “life without parole”. Even the Catholic Catechism was still a bit ambivalent about those matters. The Pope wrote that capital punishment is “inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed by the convict”. For him it represents a “failure” in nations governed by “rule of law” “because it forces you to kill in the name of justice”. Human justice is “imperfect” and “fallible”. Quoting Dostoyevsky the Pope said: “To kill for murder is a punishment incomparably worse than the crime itself. Murder by legal sentence is immeasurably more terrible than murder by brigands…. …No matter how serious the crime committed by the convict,” Francis stated, the death penalty “is an affront to the sanctity of life and human dignity. It goes against God’s plan for man, society and his merciful justice and prevents any just end to the punishment from being reached.” According to the Pope, the death penalty “does not bring justice to victims but encourages revenge.” Francis emphasized that “there is no human way to kill”, even there are debates around the world about “the way to kill, as if it were about trying to ‘do it well’. Throughout history people have defended mechanisms to kill by reducing the agony and suffering of the convict” but “there is no human way to kill another person”. Similar the Pope rejected also the punishment of life without the possibility of parole: “As with all sentences that make it impossible for an individual to plan their future because of the length of the sentence, life imprisonment can be considered a hidden form of capital punishment” because it does not deprive the person only from their freedom but also of “hope”. The criminal system can take some of the transgressors’ time away but “it must never deprive them of hope”
The State kills when it applies the death penalty but also “when it leads its population to war, when it performs extrajudicial or summary executions” and can also kill by ‘neglect’, when it does not guarantee its population access to the essential things they need to live.”

The sanctity of life is always the underlining reason for all, Christians are called to do when dealing with fellow human beings or even creation as such. All existing is graced with the spirit of God and we believe that all human being are brothers and sisters or sons and daughters of God. This protection of life from birth till death is also the baseline for all done in the world of medicine. It also applies when HOPE Cape Town focuses on children and their families infected or affected by HIV, AIDS and related illnesses. It is the sanctity of life which gives them the right to live their lives also to the fullest. It applies to all working in the field of poverty relief as a decent life with all the essentials they need to live in dignity is essential if we don’t want to fall into the neglect the Pope is pointing out. Seeing the state of affair in South Africa and the obvious neglect in various fields of government and society attributed to corruption and absolute ignorance for the plight of the people the words from the Vatican are a reminder of the long way we still have to go in our rainbow nation. And it is a reminder that we have to work tireless to get the message to those in power and assisting them to get it right in time for this generation now striving to build an equal society around the Cape of Good Hope.

Filed under: Catholic Church, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Study of the German Catholic Bishops Conference on HIV/AIDS published in Germany

The German bishops are committed to make sure that HIV-infected priests and religious in Africa can talk openly about their situation. Until now they could “not openly live with HIV while in the church service.”
This is one of the results of a study that the Working Group of the department for the work in the universal church of the German Bishops Conference has released on Tuesday. “Lessons from the responses of the Catholic Church on HIV and AIDS in Africa,” is the theme of the study. It contains the results of an international field study, which was conducted from 2010 to 2013 in Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi by theologians and health experts which are summarized. Not only medical aspects, but also pastoral and ethical issues are addressed.
Furthermore the study calls that church and medical institutions should work better together. Any efforts in the fields of HIV prevention, care, support and support for AIDS patients should be continued. The results of the study will be disseminated through workshops in Africa, which was the wish of the participating African bishops.
Basically, the situation of the people should be considered and taken into account, according to the study. Economic, social, cultural and political pressure has pushed many people to risky behavior. In the training of priests and pastoral workers ethical and pastoral skills related to the pandemic must be taken into account. (translated from the Vatican News – German section)

For somebody advocating to address the question of HIV positive priest here in South Africa since years this small article feels like a great encouragement. Until now I have experienced only great openness when addressing the issue in the Vatican with the head of the Papal Council for Health Care and the secretary for the Council on Justice and Peace, but met with rather quiet resistance when addressing the issue here in South Africa. It is indeed not a sexy topic, but the question, how we can turn the double stigma priests and religious suffering from the pandemic into a blessing for them and their respective communities is for me an important one. An organization like the church which caters so much for HIV positive people in general and was and is at the forefront in the fight against HIV/AIDS on practical level here in South Africa can at the end only be authentic if it caters with the same compassion and openness for the own people affected and infected.
I have experienced how anxious priests are, who are infected. It seems to be in the current situation impossible to get two priests who are both HIV positive in the same room  to share life. The fear of being known, being betrayed by a colleague and exposed, the fear of rejection from the respective parish or community shows a climate within the church urgently to be addressed. We are a welcoming church and the unconditional love of God we have to proclaim must be felt and extended to our fellow priests and religious brothers and sisters. It is indeed also a question of Justice & Peace within the church to do so and make space available for this. Once again: Stigma must be turned into blessing – and the unconditional love of God will shine palpable upon us all.

Filed under: Africa, Catholic Church, chaplain, General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ball of HOPE 2015

The Ball of HOPE 2015

Southern African – German Chamber of Commerce and Industry
&
HOPE Cape Town

Join us again for this prestigious event and play a significant role in the lives of many needy children and their families in the Western Cape.
The Ball of HOPE 2015 takes place on
Saturday, 16th May 2015 at 18h30 for 19h00
at the WESTIN CAPE TOWN
Dress Code: Black Tie

Enjoy fantastic entertainment, delicious food, extraordinary people
and support the good cause at the same time!

Stand the chance to travel to Europe, compliments of :
Lufthansa & edelweiss

KATLEGO MABOE – MASTER OF CEREMONY
In his career as a television presenter, Katlego started his venture into the industry at the age of 21 when he was selected to be one of the leading presenters of “DEKAT TV”, an Afrikaans lifestyle program launched on SABC 3. After only a few months on the show he was approached by CMP (Clive Morris Productions) to audition as a presenter on the well renowned nature program, 50/50. He was subsequently head hunted to be one of the hosts of SABC 3’s breakfast show Expresso, SABC 3: 2010 – Present, Studio and field presenter on 50/50, SABC 2: 2010, Head presenter on DEKAT TV, SABC 3: 2009 – 2010
THE HOSTS
THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN-GERMAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY
130 offices in 90 countries. One network, one objective, one design. The Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry NPC is part of the German Chamber Network and has therefore a lot to offer to its members and customers. With offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, the SAGCCI is the official authorized representative of German industry and trade for the Southern Africa. As a private, non-profit organization, its primary goal is to offer the best service for building bilateral business relationships between Southern Africa and Germany.
HOPE CAPE TOWN
HOPE Cape Town is a non-profit organisation providing outreach, education and counselling at the community level, focusing on HIV/AIDS and TB in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. HOPE Cape Town is co-located and associated with Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town and is linked to the University of Stellenbosch. HOPE Cape Town cooperates with “KID-CRU”, the Tygerberg Hospital research unit for paediatric infectious diseases. The offices of HOPE Cape Town are located at the Medical School of the University of Stellenbosch – Tygerberg Campus in close vicinity of the Tygerberg Hospital.
THE VENUE
THE WESTIN CAPE TOWN
Set in one of the most popular destinations in the world, directly linked to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, The Westin Cape Town is a deluxe city centre hotel dedicated to providing world class facilities and services. Classified as the preferred luxury establishment for heads of state, business leaders, celebrities and those who simply seek an oasis of comfort at the end of a busy day.
Relish in spectacular views overlooking the vibrant city, Table Mountain and harbour. The Westin Cape Town is ideally positioned for business and pleasure, located within easy walking distance from cultural and commercial attractions. The hotels offers a variety of food and beverage options, including The Westin Executive Club Restaurant on the 19th floor with unsurpassed views of Cape Town, the contemporary Thirty7, Raleigh’s cigar lounge and Louis B’s Bar.
THE ENTERTAINMENT
ADOLF THELEN – MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Adolf Thelen is a freelance musician and producer in Cape Town and also works as a music educator at Holy Cross Brooklyn. He has been in charge of the entertainment at the Ball for 15 years.
For each Ball he has conceptualized and conducted different musical acts from opera to West End musical to rock-shows.
HOLY CROSS CONVENT SCHOOL BROOKLYN
The Holy Cross Convent School is a catholic private school in Brooklyn. Their Senior Choir has performed at the Ball of Hope for more that 10 years. May of the children live in neglected areas of Cape Town. For these children, the participation at the Ball is an important event in the school’s calendar.  The choir is conducted by Mrs Josey Oranzie.

All proceeds are once again for the HOPE Cape Town Project at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital; one of the major HIV outreach programmes in the Western Cape.
visit: http://www.hopecapetown.com
For bookings please contact:
SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Tel. (021) 418 3311,
Email capetown@germanchamber.co.za

THE GUEST OF HONOUR

JUSTICE EDWIN CAMERON
Edwin Cameron has been a Justice of South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, since 1 January 2009. Previously, he was a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal for eight years, and a judge of the High Court for six. He was educated at Pretoria Boys’ High School, Stellenbosch and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford.
During apartheid he was a human rights lawyer. President Mandela appointed him a judge in 1994.
He was an outspoken critic of President Mbeki’s AIDS-denialist policies and his prize-winning memoir, Witness to AIDS, has been published in South Africa, the UK, the US and in translation in Germany and in China.
His latest book, Justice: A Personal Account, was published in February 2014.
He is involved in many charitable and public causes, and has received many honors for his work.

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, SA-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Society and living environment, South Africa, , , , , , , , , ,

HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 31st, 2015
7 months to go.

Ball of HOPE

The Ball of HOPE - our charity event in Cape TownMay 16th, 2015
1 month to go.

Stefan Hippler

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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