God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Philip Seymour Hoffman death is speaking volumes

Another actor dead as a result of drug use; it seems that celebrities and public persons have more possibilities to entertain drug use, even confessing to it, getting clean only to start all over again. Fame seems not to translate into a happy life but into depression and yearning for more and the ultimate kick. All those stories tell us about a tragedy of being put on a pedestal and the assumption, that money and VIP treatment creates happiness in life. From Withney Houston, Amy Winehouse to Heath Ledger and Chris Kelly – they all tell the story of stars  at the end not able to connect to real life; and personalities, whose need for excitement, paired with unlimited finances and so-called VIP friends brought on a lifestyle that often breeds addiction.
It leaves the question what really carries us through life? Is it money, fame or at the end such simple things like love, good friends, a lover holding on to the person even in bad times?
For me such tragedies show how life can be wasted by slipping into an artificial life style often fostered by the need to have again and again a new story for all these celebrity magazines which live and strive of the curiosity of its readers.  So at the end it is the mixture of extreme personalities and perceived society demands which creates the need for drugs and prescribed medication leading to early death.
How far away is from this the daily struggle of those we cater for at HOPE Cape Town. It seems so far away, but at the end, it boils down to the same human experience: anxiety, yearning for love and acknowledgement, the feeling of loneliness and the cry for help in one or the other way. Celebrity person in Hollywood and a person in the townships of Cape Town:  when it comes to emotions, there is a certain similarity for sure.

Filed under: General, Reflection, Society and living environment, 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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obamacare, turn the tide and enthusiasm @ AIDS Conference

Sometimes it is only one speech, one moment in time, and one can feel energized again. Sometimes it is just one speech, one moment in time and all tiredness is gone and one starts to focus again. For me, this moment in time happened this morning at the Plenary Session of the World AIDS Conference. Still tired from the long journey I listened to three keynote speaker which really got my mind going.

Introduced by the Nobel Price Laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi from France who was instrumental in discovering the HI virus, the Director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health (USA), Anthony S Fauci gave an overview where we are standing in the moment and why we are close to turning the tide of HIV/AIDS. He caught the attention of the audience in describing how sciences and community approach must go together and laid grounds how all facets of prevention and treatment, outreach and bio-approach can take the next steps in eradicating HIV and giving a whole new generation a chance to grow up without the treat of the pandemic.

Next was Phill Wilson, CEO of the Black AIDS Institute in Washington – black, gay and HIV positive. His charismatic speech described the plight of black Americans – specially also in the Washington area, where the prevalence rate amongst those with dark skin color are as high as in some areas of South Africa. He made it also very clear to the audience what “Obama-care” means for those US Americans without an expensive health insurance. I felt ashamed listening to his very personal stories thinking that the US American Catholic Bishops attacked the new health care system because amongst others family planing is included in Obama’s approach. Was there ever a thought of balancing all the “Catholic question marks” against the benefits for those, whose lives or deaths are depending on this new law?

Next Hillary R Clinton, who delivered a clear message that after 25 years and the last World AIDS Conference held in the USA in San Francisco her country is now more than ever committed to turn the tide and assist in having a next generation without fear of HIV and AIDS. She also declared her very solidarity to Melinda Gates and announced additional funds of her government for family planing but also circumcision and other projects.

All speakers the morning made it clear that the moment has come to combine all efforts to push the syndrome back, to use all tools to reduce the transmission to the magic “zero”. But also all acknowledged that there will be still quite some time till this goal is reached. But until then, those lesser and lesser in number, who get infected in the coming generation, should be able to receive treatment and support without any discrimination or stigmatization. And it was made clear that this means that all involved from community outreach via faith-based organizations till governments to reflect how one deals with those most in danger of contracting HIV: gay people, drug addicts, prostitutes. And the question remained open during the rest of the session as a challenge to all concerned: What does it mean to go into those fields many people feel uncomfortable to speak about? And specially for me as a Catholic priest remains that question: How do we deal with those moral minefields in today’s atmosphere of theology and pastoral care?

A lot to think of for the first day of the conference and the day has not ended yet…

Turning the tide – now..

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

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