God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Motherfu@#er – or summarizing an interesting year

Nobody can say 2017 was a boring or uneventful year – it does not matter where you live or work – we were all part of a developing global village story shaking the world to the core. Politically a constant fake news producer, self-styled ego-man, denialist on many fronts and womanizer was elected President of the United States and many people had to learn that between the big cities of the West and East coast are definitely not as progressive as the city dwellers – believing rather what they want to believe instead tackling the challenges and realities on the ground.
In Europe Germany stills waits for a new government to be formed while in Austria a populist youngster seems to be the savior of this country while in Poland and Hungary the right wingers demolish democratic advances and human rights achievements almost systematically. The British playing Brexit chess without knowing really where it will end and the EU searches its way through all the political pitfalls its encountered during the year.

On the African continent the looting of South Africa continued and the brazenness in the face of several court decisions and revelations about those captured by the Guptas only increased as if they would know that their time is running out. Zimbabwe got rid of uncle Bob after a shameless Grace pushed for power while in other African countries there are the usual suspects extending their welcome by changing laws and constitutions. The question of refugees from Africa to Europe continuous to be a matter of grave concern and indicates that problems are not solved but always pushed to the next big political meeting.

In the Roman-Catholic church the opposition against Pope Francis clearly tried to score points in ridiculous ways and the hardly hidden hurt vanity of one cardinal stood out as an example of unhappiness with the current way our church is steered – while Catholics as such are discovering the depth of faith in a new and exciting way – even if mercy is a concept known since the beginning of Christianity.

And all this is mirrored in the social media – where etiquette seems to vanish while emotions are running high. Lots of contributions are lacking respect or brain like this example which I choose to publish because it shows the consequence of having leaders steering those emotions, playing with the uneducated and their sentiments, leading by bad examples or supporting the wave of false or misleading information which results in a mixture of unreasonable demands, non-logical approaches, denial of realities and the fostering of ideologies we thought to have beaten long ago.

So there is undeniable a sort of chaos ruling the world in the moment – with leaders uneasy and seemingly battling to make sense and to come to conclusions beneficial for all.  Democracy seems to take some hits while social media and the change in technology and communication has completely changed the environment people are operating. And if you look to China, where they develop a tracking system for all citizens and plans to work with scores to give or take privileges like loans or traveling, it becomes blatant clear where the challenges for political systems will be found in the years to come.

All this said there is also the acknowledgment that all challenges are also opportunities. Opportunities to resist and grow, opportunities to re-evaluate and correct, to discuss and discern and to move on forging a way for more humanity, more human rights and liberties as well as dignity for everybody. So nothing is doomed or lost at all.

In this context the work of NGO’s and civil right groups becomes so more important to assist in achieving the for-said goals. They are rightly seen as a threat to governments leaning towards dictatorial behavior as seen in Egypt or Russia, let alone China. To support those NGO’s and to value their contribution to a better world remains important when we now go into the next year 2018. Good vetted non-governmental organizations with a proven track record are in the coming years the lifeline to fill and bridge the gaps of governmental work, civil society has to play a much bigger role and charity organizations will be much-needed to continue their work for those many falling through the cracks of organized societies.

So at the end it is a mixed review but not hopeless, it is full of challenges we will have to turn into opportunities – it is a starting pitch for 2018 which will make the work of all interested in humanity exciting, demanding and rewarding at the same time. May it be for as many as possible a blessed year and may the emotions express themselves in a way respecting each other.




Filed under: General, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, South Africa, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HIV Treatment research for pill once a month…


Treatment is getting easier in our days, with medication provided – at least in Europe and the USA which has less side effects and minimize the pill burden.Two new HIV drugs in development that show promise for less frequent dosing were previewed at a conference in San Francisco recently. Albuvirtide is the drug called which could one day suppress HIV for a week while S/GSK1265744 might even do this for a month. First studies show promising results. For more info read a report about the new research here.


Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3. Hamburger HIV – Strategic Forum

Being part of a purely medical symposium is new to me – but it was an interesting one in Hamburg, which ended this afternoon.  Besides my opening talk about the African way in the jungle of Westernized prevention and treatment strategies there were a range of exciting topics  and so much to learn. G Stich from Wuerzburg shared his impression of the treatment work on the continent Africa while K Ochel reported from his experience in working in the fields of E-learning in China. A real eye opener and a complete change of attitude is happening in this huge country, from prevention work via methadone substitute for IV drug-users to treatment options. I realized that maybe we have to review our predictions and thinking regarding China in the fields of HIV and AIDS.
Church, politics and health systems: Is the pandemic under control was the question of a panel discussion I participated then and again: different views how far we have come, but there was nobody seriously thinking we have already reached the Rubicon.

Exciting news from research in the USA: D Ando reported on exciting studies to block the CCR5 receptor and D Margolis from trials to trigger the HIV reservoirs  through HDAC Inhibition. And we learned in the context that there are some interesting developments regarding the Berlin patient. Is functional healing a vision was the overall question of this part of the forum.

The next chapter looked after side effects: Are they really as serious as they sometimes reported? Is there any difference between aging people living with or without HIV or another chronic disease? It seems not according to what I have heard… But I learned that a study about elderly female in Iowa showed that taking too much vitamin supplements actually triggers higher mortality – specially iron. Calcium seems to decrease the mortality rate. Interesting…

Role play about doctor – patient interactions and treatment strategies formed the final part of the forum and I have to admit that the atmosphere, the discussions, the way of giving information, the variety of topics made this strategic forum worth travelling all the way from Cape Town to Hamburg. Thanks also to MSD and the local organisers for making it possible for me to participate, to share my knowledge and to learn so much more.

And good to know that researchers and medics are interested in seeing the holistic picture and eyeing beyond the their own medical portfolio.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

POZ Magazine: Beijing AIDS Group Forced to Close

Beijing AIDS Group Forced to Close

Beijing Loving Source, an AIDS service organization, will close operations following increased pressure from tax authorities in the Chinese government, The Associated Press (AP) reports. The group was founded by Hu Jia, a well-known AIDS activist who is currently serving a 3.5 year prison sentence for pushing authorities to deal with HIV publicly. After the government started regulating overseas donations, the organization ran into financial troubles.

To read the AP article, click here


Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, , , ,

POZ Magazine: Africa and China Partner to Fight HIV/AIDS

Leaders from Africa and China have come together in a new partnership to make progress toward the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include strengthening the global response to HIV/AIDS, according to a Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) statement. The countries involved seek to end an era of working in isolation by sharing technologies, promoting innovation, strengthening health care systems and improving access to social welfare programs.

To read the UNAIDS statement, click here



Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, , , ,

13th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 27th, 2018
7 months to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
54 days to go.

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