God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée 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, , , , , , , , , ,

No time to rest in the fight against HIV and AIDS

Coming back from Europe and heading next week to the World Aids Conference in Melbourne, the news about the so-called “Mississippi Baby” feels like a punch in the gut and a damper to the hopes of a functional cure. The child known as the “Mississippi baby” — whose apparent cure was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine last fall — has had the virus return after more than two years off anti-retroviral therapy, according to specialists involved in the case who spoke in a Thursday news briefing. “Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child’s care and the HIV/AIDS research community,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases (USA), at the briefing. The development “reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body,” Fauci said in a statement. “The NIH remains committed to moving forward with research on a cure for HIV infection.”
Not only the NIH, but we all, the activists, researchers and those infected and affected have to acknowledge how bumpy the road to a functional cure or even a vaccine will be. This story ones again reminds us that HIV and Aids are not defeated yet. The easiness of European youth and society in believing that some pills would sort out those being infected – and further believing that this anyhow only applies to those others, those being gay or immigrants from Africa or injecting drug users should be re-evaluated after such news. HIV and Aids are still a treat to humanity and society and as we make progress, we can’t declare victory. Otherwise we look as stupid as then-president Bush declaring victory over Iraq on one of his war ships – look at the situation in the country in our days.
The news about the Mississippi baby should also serve as a warning to donors that withdrawing funding because we have won the battle is an illusion. The Global Aids Fund and all the NGO’s in the field of HIV, Aids and related illnesses need more funding to gain progress in the fight against the syndrome. We have achieved so much but there are still millions dying every year as a result of the pandemic and there are millions out there without treatment. Resistance is growing and we only have to look at TB and South Africa to see what could develop if we not keep watch. The virus is waiting for a re-run if society is not taking it serious anymore. And the dream of a HIV free generation will be blown up in shatters – therefore no time to rest in the fight against HIV and Aids.

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

Reading day…

There are so many articles and blogs about HIV and AIDS that one could read for days without getting through all of them. Here is a selection of what caught my eyes in the last days:

A dream to end AIDS – a short notice about one of the researches who discovered the HI virus. It reminds us of the long way still ahead for millions of people to be able to live with HIV

Truvada as PrEP lowers Herpes infection – a new study suggests the drug can also lower infection rates of genital herpes, despite opponent concerns that use of PrEP would lead to an increase in STDs including herpes

What spirituality really means – we all talk about it in our days and most people living with the virus discover it for themselves as a source of meaning and stability in life

8 ways to find your spirituality – putting the word into practice for those interested

What’s your long term risk in transmitting HIV – an interesting question and some maths has been applied in this article more for those into sciences and mathematical models

And always pop onto our website www.hopecapetown.com and get the newest information on what we are doing..

Enjoy reading!

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

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1.7 million

Death

Death (Photo credit: tanakawho)

The UN report on the situation of HIV and AIDS counts 1.7 million people who have died in 2012 as the result of the pandemic. We hear this figures especially on World AIDS Day and as the number is so big, emotions are normally quiet under control. Being in the situation of having just lost my dad I suddenly realize – not for the first time, but very powerful – what it means, this statistical figure: 1.7 million times a personal tragedy – most times the suffering of having lost somebody very close, very much-loved, surely in those cases very often young people or breadwinner of the family.
When death hits home – statistics suddenly transform into real life stories and every count becomes an emotional story of love and desperation, of the feeling of loss leaving behind those mourning and having to say farewell often to early in life.

Knowing, that early intervention of the Reagan administration would have saved millions of such tragedies show how devastating politics can be towards the individual lives, even thousands of miles away and for decades. And knowing, that Ronald Reagan refused to act because of his religious believe that gay people are not worth the effort shows that even in modern history faith and religion play a vital role in decisions made about life and death of people.

And this story continuous when countries scale down their contribution to the Global AIDS fund, when money for research is scrapped as the economic situation is driven by only financial gain maximization – when wars, weapon trade and the art of killing people is for most countries more important than saving lives. The story continues when religion still contributes to the hate and discrimination and persecution of those living a different lifestyle as the mainstream society.

Advent is time of preparation and reflection for those calling themselves Christians – and maybe it is time to have a hard look at how our action contributes to the well-being of all people not excluding anybody from the unconditional love of God, whom we expect to be born again on Christmas eve. And the higher somebody is in the hierarchy of the church or the political system of a country responsibility grows to act accordingly.

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

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
35 days to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
7 months to go.

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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