God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

World Aids Day

World Aids Day – once in a year the world is obliged to think about HIV and AIDS and all those being infected and affected. When traveling in Europe I mostly encounter a sort of fatigue or ignorance towards the topic. It seems that HIV does not posses any treat anymore, opposite to Ebola which seems to be more threatening and dangerous than any other disease or syndrome. Gays, drug users and prostitutes/escorts – those are the main focus groups so they say and again we are back within the circle having to deal with those at the margins of society. If it would be only that easy: I guess that most of the 34 million people living with HIV are not part of one of these groups – and looking to South Africa, it is indeed women carrying the heaviest burden of the pandemic. Let’s be honest: the talk about healing, about the possibility of healing just around the corner waiting to be discovered soon has added to the perception that all is fine now. Having potent medication, even Truvada as a precautionary remedy – at least for those who can afford them – is another factor fueling the feeling of safety and relive.

From a South African point of view things are different: HIV remains a treat to humanity and the war has not been won yet. The opposite is true: the false feeling of victory has given rise to a relaxation of attention and donations and support are dwindling. It looks to me that all efforts have let to the possibility of turning the tide, only to stop  short before achieving it and falling in back in the mental trap or wishful thinking that having done so much should be sufficient. Hundreds of new infections per day are talking a different language in the country I am living in. And the menace of resistance even calls louder for attention than ever before. We also thought that the Mississippi Baby, treated early would show a success in treatment, only to turn out a failure. Vaccine trials didn’t achieved what we have hoped for and looking into the development of medication – there is not that much new on the horizon, rather combinations or different forms of intake.

The war is not over yet and HIV is not defeated – the goals of the world for 2015 are not achieved and we now hope for 2025 or 2030, pushing the finishing line even further away. I am not sure most people have heard or noticed how fast a Hepatitis C cure was found – and how fast the Ebola trials are moving. Most HIV cases are Sub-Saharan and it seems that this area and it’s people are not worth a more pushy effort to find a cure. It sounds sarcastic but the threat of a resistant heterosexual virus hitting the global village might be the only argument to get those who have forgotten about the danger and feeling save to engage again more actively and turn the tide and achieve zero new infections in the real sense of the word beyond the World Aids Day and some festive events during the year.

For war, oil, fight over resources, terrorism and so-called terrorism billions of Euros and Dollars are spent with ease – why not for the end of the suffering of 34 million people?

 

 

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

From lesbian sex and HVI transmission to the banning of the Red Cross in Catholic Schools- interesting read in between

Going to the high volumes of articles and journals in the field of HIV and AIDS I thought the following could be interesting for you:

Lesbian sex is thought to be the most safe one, but there is a fresh report from Houston in Texas confirming a rare female to female transmission of HIV. It is further reported that this transmission took place between two women in a monogamous relationship. All details of the story are published in “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” – published 14.03.2014. To read a summary please click here

From the Mississippi Baby to the California Baby – we meanwhile know about the benefits of early treatment and the possibility of HIV eradication if treated within the first hours of infection.  Read more on this topic from the 21st Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections here

From the CROI Conference as well there are new about safer sex without condom. Ever since the HPTN Study 052, it was concluded that having an undetectable HIV viral load strongly reduces the risk of HIV transmission. But how safe is condom-less sex if one’s viral load is undetectable? Read about the ongoing PARTNER study here

Hepatitis C – a short while ago a disaster for every person being HIV  has become a center of attention after treatment and cure evolved in a speedy way. The first medications have been retired shortly after introduction to make place for more effective treatment. Read about this exciting and important development here

HIV controllers were always an interesting study group. It was thought that those people could control HIV and were protected from getting sick. New research shows that the situation is more complicated and that such people have higher level of chronic inflammation. An interview with Jonathan Li, MD researching in this field might be giving interesting clues about the benefits and treats for those being naturally controlling HIV and you can read it here

Manila on the Philippines shows quite a rise on HIV infections and obviously the city responsible are trying to reign in with prevention messages and the free distribution of condoms. The dominant Roman-Catholic Church  condemns in the person of Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo this contribution and he calls to follow the example of Africa – where in his opinion only abstinence and fidelity has brought the numbers down. Read more about this interesting point of  view here

The Catholic Church in Belize has banned the Belize Red Cross amongst other organizations from all 200 Catholic Schools in the country. To read the response of the Red Cross click here

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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