God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

03.08.2009 positive blogging…

It is amazing to find out more and more people blogging about their positive lifestyles and it is encouraging to read about it.  Most of them are doing it anonymously and it is understandable amidst the fear of stigmatisation and the often neurotic way, people react to a positive person. Why is that so? Because amazingly I have the impression, that it is always the others, who would be vulnerable to catch the virus. I have had discussions with people having multiple unprotected sex, but they were still convinced that they carefully selected their partners and that the risk of contracting the virus was almost zero. Isn’t that amazing?
An unforgettable moment in my life was last year visiting a friend in Thailand, who obviously was quite sick when I arrived. Knowing his lifestyle I spend days to convince him to visit a clinic and to let him test himself. On a Saturday evening at 10pm I got him into Silom community clinic and pushed my way with him through the staff trying to close down. Three rapid tests confirmed my suspicion and reflecting with him on what was happening, it was amazing for me to understand that he – deep inside himself – knew, what was wrong with him, but simply refused to face the reality of a test. God knows alone how many infections could have been avoided if he would have gone earlier. But the fear of stigma, of getting sick, of being rejected prevented him for a long time to go for the test. Understandable, but it showed me again how stigma adds to more infections and to early death as one starts treatment consequently sometimes too late.

Making things worse in this case, his CD 4 count was still to high to be able to receive treatment (over 200 copies p/ml).. so he had to wait another half a year before being able to start treatment.  These are the things driving me in my work in this field. The stigma, the unnecessary suffering until being eligible for treatment in a 3rd world setting and more and more the restriction of travel for people living with the virus. We are so advanced in treatment in Europe – but we are still miles away from treating HIV as a condition which does not need to end in discrimination or stigmatization of some kind.

We have to work with those affected and infected in an intensive way to change these settings, which lead at the end to more suffering and more infections – completely unnecessary. And we have to work constantly with ourselves to understand our own perceptions, fears, prejudices to convert them into a loving understanding without judgment.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, Reflection, , , , , , , , , ,

HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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