God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

20.09.2009 Beyond the condoms…

Having written a blog entry about the criminalization of  HIV and seeing the response so far, I just realise that there are quite some moral and ethical issues we still have to deal with in the fields of HIV and AIDS. One is used to hear only about the condom story when talking about or talking with the Catholic Church, but there are more things coming to my mind:
– Equality of man and women
– Criminal Code and HIV
– Travel restrictions or travel ban and human rights
– Commencement and possible cessation of treatment
– Dealing of the Catholic Church (or any church) with their own clergy being positive
– Understanding of sexuality in the context of Europe, Africa and Asia as well as Latin America
– Abstinence only or diverse approach towards prevention work

I wish I could convince the German and the Southern African Bishops Conference to set up a study group on all these issues and surely a couple of more questions, which will come up in a brainstorming session. It would make such a difference.

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

18.09.2009 Criminal HIV?

“Nick Rhoades, an Iowa man sentenced May 8 to 25 years in prison for failing to disclose his HIV status to a male sexual partner, had his sentence reduced to five years of probation without jail time in a September 11 reconsideration hearing, The Iowa Independent reports.”

It is indeed an interesting question on whether disclosure of a HIV status can or should always be judged by legal means. In the existing climate of stigmatization and discrimination it is very unlikely that all people infected will be willing or able to disclose before being sexually active with somebody else. Punishment for non-disclosure, often even if no infection took place is growing in the legal systems of nations and I tend to disagree.
I would argue that the onus lies on both parties to protect and if I want to engage in sexual activities where the exchange of body fluids is likely, I have to treat every unknown and maybe even every known person as if he/she is carrier of the virus.  It always takes two to dance one says – and this applies also to such cases like the one above.
I personally don’t think that the tool of the criminal code is a very good tool to prevent infections; I think it will rather make it more unlikely that people get tested because at least they could argue then, that they did not know at all.
I see with concern that more and more also African countries develop laws in that regard, even punishing people when they did not know of their infection and no infection took place.
Extra criminal laws in this regard puts people living with the virus very quick into the criminal corner – that is not what we need to stop the stigma and in doing so,  creating an environment where we are really able to stop the spread of the virus.

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

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