God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

AIDS as disturbance of creation?

English: Freddie Mercury in New Haven, CT at a...

 Mercury in New Haven, CT at a WPLR Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Relaxing a bit after the Berlin Gala, I watch with interest a TV production about 40 years of the rock band “Queen”. Central to the story is obviously the life and death of Freddie Mercury – singer and song writer of the band.  The life of a genius musician cut short through the HI virus. And there is the sudden realization, how much HIV and AIDS has robbed human mankind of the development of art and culture. As St. Paul writes about creation still ongoing, there is surely to consider that HIV might have disturbed creation in cutting down the potential in human beings to become in a lifetime what they were supposed to be. Or is the HIV pandemic part of creation, part of it laying still in labor?
As God and creation are connected, it makes more sense to talk about the body of Christ having AIDS, being in pain and suffering. And even if in Europe HIV is not that much connected to suffering, death and dying any more – worldwide millions of lives are cut short by this virus. The suffering, the stigma, the discrimination continues despite all successes in treatment. And theological, there is still so much more to learn and develop and put into our teaching than we have done before. The climate within my church has changed – at least it is allowed again to think without fear – it would be great to use this time of spring to see, what else HIV and AIDS can tell our theology.



Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

ARV pill prevents HIV – so a study tells…

In Uganda, a trial concluded that taking anti-retroviral treatment as a prevention measure on a daily base means to get almost total protection of HIV. This was reported by the online journal Plos these days.750 Ugandans, being themselves negative but with a positive life partner, were observed for one year while taking Truvada as a prevention tool and nobody of them was infected after one year. In the control group of 404 individuals, 14 persons became infected in the same time-frame.
“This is very exciting and compelling and confirms other studies in which people who took their tablets got almost total protection”, so Wits Reproductive Health and Research Institute Prof Francoise Venter. The question remains whether it is enough to treat only the infected partner or both to achieve such a result on the long run.

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

Using the term “HIV negative” as a substitution for “not being tested”

An attempt at a discrimination graphic.

An attempt at a discrimination graphic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently came across an opinion piece from Preston Mitchum, a policy analyst for LGBT issues. He reflects on the question how people use the wording” HIV negative” almost as a hideout for not getting tested. But telling his own story about dating a person being HIV positive and rejecting him, he touches on the whole question of maturity and discrimination. We as church always emphasis not being judgmental and not discriminating against somebody being positive. I remember a talk in a Secondary School for girls here in Cape Town where I discussed with the students the question of stigma and discrimination in the context of HIV and AIDS. And being assured from all present that discrimination would never be an option for themselves, especially being students in a Catholic school,  I dared to ask who of them would have the courage to take a boyfriend who is HIV positive. There was silence and from more than 200 girls only one hand was raised.

I am convinced that we start tackling stigma and discrimination when starting to deal with our own fears, when we confront ourselves with all our hidden anxieties and when we are able to be honest about it looking into a mirror. The honest testimony of Preston might be helpful to reflect on our own standing when it comes to stigma and discrimination in our own midst.

Using ‘HIV-Negative’ as a Substitution for ‘Haven’t Been Tested’

by Preston Mitchum

A policy analyst for LGBT issues confronts his fears about HIV testing.

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

Every 10th South African is HIV positiv

The publication of the newest statistics in South Africa makes it clear: There is no real relief in South Africa when it comes to HIV and AIDS and there is real concern looking at TB. The figures in the Western Cape around HIV and AIDS are showing in increase instead of the aimed decrease in numbers. To put so many people on treatment means that adherence and compliance are not controlled and resistance is growing amongst those being newly infected and detected. We still pay the price for the denial of the government of Thabo Mbeki and his famous minister of health, known to be connected to beetroot and other veggies. And as long the social system of South Africa does not support those on treatment, but pay grants for those who are sick we have the perverted situation that sickness pays the bills and brings food on the table. Together with the social problems of South Africa including crime and unemployment – there is still a long way to go to get back to a healthy society. HOPE Cape Town is committed to assist on this long way provided that government on all levels learn more and more to collaborate with NGO’s and accept their own rights and their own standing and ability to contribute. Also in terms of the relationship between local, provincial and national government and the NGO sector there is more to learn in the years to come. But as usual, there is always HOPE 🙂

Visit -  Ithemba Ward

Filed under: HOPE Cape Town Association, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Politics and Society, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Responsibility, Fundrasing and Rotary

Time is running fast and the year-end is closer than it feels comfortable. Tuesday we had a combined management and board meeting of HOPE Cape Town Association, like always full of items to discuss and determine and decide. 28 employees mean also a lot of administrative work, HOPE Cape Town feels obviously responsible for each and everybody working for our fine organisation. And as we completely depend on funding from the private sector it is indeed a challenge for all senior staff and board members to do all the fundraising necessary and dedicating as much time as possible to the cause we have chosen: to assist people living with or being affected by HIV and AIDS in the Western Cape.
Good news from the HOPE Cape Town Trust side which received a grant to support research in the fields of HIV and AIDS. So we can support from HOPE Cape Town the necessary academic work which always reflects in the daily work in the township communities around Cape Town.Tomorrow I will have a talk at the German Rotary Club here in Cape Town – another opportunity to advertise the work we are doing.

Being a Rotarian myself and having benefited from the work of Rotary International and it’s grant system as HOPE Cape Town I can only recommend everybody to have a look where the next Rotary Club is meeting. Becoming a Rotarian can be a live-changing event, because it means service above self in very practical terms. If somebody is reading this and living and working in Cape Town and is interested to have a closer look – the Signal Hill Rotary Club meets every Thursday at 1pm at the Royal Yacht Club for one hour. It will be a pleasure to introduce you to this fine organisation.
This reminds me that my club “Signal Hill” was at the time one of the Godparents of HOPE Cape Town – the ladies prepared for the snack after the official opening and since then the ways between HOPE Cape Town and Signal Hill crossed several times. When I am in Cape Town I enjoy this weekly break in my daily routine to catch up with my Rotarian friends at the Yacht Club – one hour of fellowship which ends often in great projects and support for those in need.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, HOPE Cape Town Trust, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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