God, AIDS, Africa and HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Violence and no electricity

Working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in South Africa isn’t for the fainthearted, keeping the work up to standard, adjusting to new developments, identifying the gaps government is not able to fill – not to speak about the ideological and dogmatic difficulties for a priest to work in this field. Recent days and weeks are making this work even more difficult as South Africa seems to go again and again through phases of xenophobia resulting in looting of shops of foreign nationals and the wounding and killing of those seemingly being more black than a South African skin. Xenophobia and racism against other African nationals is also prevalent in our days with Durban inner city looking like a war zone and violence spreading to Johannesburg and Pretoria and other places. King Goodwill Zwelithini triggered those incidents happening now through his comments asking Non-South African people to leave South Africa accusing them of creating problems. The press quoted him saying: “As I speak to you, you find there are unsightly goods hanging all over our shops. They dirty our streets. We cannot even recognize which shop is which. They are all blocked by foreigners… We are requesting those who come from outside to please go back to their countries.”
After the killing spree in 2008 ,various flames up of xenophobia attacks on a yearly returning base and the last ones recorded beginning of the year in Soweto,it seems that nothing has been learned by politicians or society to prevent an re-occurrence. It did not help, that Edward Zuma, son of the president, adds his public comments that foreigner are exploiting South Africa and that they should rather leave.
This all creates an explosive atmosphere in the township communities, where residents ask themselves what is next watching the pictures of killings and thousands of displaced people within their own country.

Adding to this situation is the ongoing Eskom crisis in the country which plunges again and again in a more or less systematic roll out of blackouts parts of South Africa into the dark. Load shedding now for days, for most of the country three times a day no electricity and the situation is self-inflicted: the government has messed up a great deal in not allowing the national electricity provider Eskom to develop. Cadre deployment, nepotism, incompetence , Black Economic Empowerment and ignorance added and is adding to the troubles we are in here in South Africa. According to Minister Brown, the electricity problems will continue for the next two years.

What does this mean to the work environment of an organization like HOPE Cape Town? No electricity no modern communication, and even if we have electricity in our offices it does not mean those have we are trying to contact – work is constantly hampered in the moment. No electricity means in Cape Town no robots functioning – in South Africa’s most congested city, when it comes to traffic it means that travel time doubles and rush hours become a nightmare similar to Bangkok. Xenophobia gives thugs and criminals a reason to exploit such a situation and one can sense the unease building up in black township communities. No electricity means closed shops, lost business, candlelight meals and much more…

Violence and no electricity, illegal land occupation and fighting the demons of history (and their statues), crime and corruption, nepotism and unemployment  – South Africa has more than enough challenges in our days and makes daily life not always a pleasure. But still HOPE Cape Town and all the other NGO’s and people of goodwill (punt intended) will continue to assist turning the tide in their respective area of expertise to give hope and future to those living in South Africa.

Filed under: Africa, General, Politics and Society, Reflection, South Africa, , , , , , , , , , ,

A blessed time

All friends and supporters of HOPE Cape Town and this blog a blessed Easter or Passah.

for Stefan (2)20150401_112142 (2)

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HOPE Gala Dresden

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

Ball of HOPE

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

Stefan Hippler

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