God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

PEPFAR and the Catholic Church

A street in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

A street in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am visiting Johannesburg and a Catholic institution asking for assistance in a difficult situation. The Catholic Church in South Africa has mainly relied on one big sponsor in the last years: PEPFAR, the US American President’s emergency fund. This was done for several reasons; one being that in the beginning it excluded any condom distribution or work with prostitution as a precondition for receiving these funds. There has been very much debate around it at World AIDS Conferences at times as this resulted in some countries showing a clear increase of infections again. Nevertheless, with the money lots of good was also done, amongst others instituting the distribution of antiretrovirals for thousands of South Africans.
The funds now drying up and so the Church is forced to transfer its patients to the governmental facilities with different results. As specially in Johannesburg also quite a big number of asylum seekers still without papers are among those catered for, these people would anyhow not be eligible for continuation of treatment in a primary health care facility.
So the need for special funding to at least get one doctor looking after those patients is needed and hopefully there is a way to support this for the new year.
From what I have seen and heard it seems that for many patients it is a bitter reality check: coming from church run clinics which really went the extra mile for a patient to ensure his or her health, governmental facilities are mostly overcrowded and not able to cope in this way with their patients. Experts fear, that people will be lost in transition or get lost in transition.This shows once again how important the support of the Catholic Church in providing medical services has been and it is to decry that lack of funding forces closure and that – at least in Johannesburg – the government now refuses to deliver antiretroviral medication as a matter of principle to NGO run medical facilities even if they could continue – forcing so the transfer in a way too often not beneficial for the patients.

With a generation of young people being born HIV positive and with the treat of resistance looming like we have seen it with TB, this country needs the continuation of support from all corners of society. Even if there is the growing impression that we have conquered and beaten the deadly pandemic, it might be too early to come to this conclusion. So it is really to hope that also the churches try their utmost to continue as many services as possible to give those infected and affected all necessary support.

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

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

Mortality of people with HIV compared to non-infected peers

The eternal question of people being infected or just getting their positive test result is: How long do I have to live? Does it make sense to continue living as if there is a future ahead? HIV-positive people taking antiretroviral therapy who have an undetectable viral load and a CD4 cell count above 500 cells/mm3 have a mortality risk comparable to that seen in the general population, investigators report in the online edition of AIDS. Researchers looked at mortality rates among participants enrolled in two large, randomized controlled trials – the SMART and ESPRIT studies. “We identified no evidence for a raised risk of death compared with the general population in HIV-infected people on ART with an undetectable viral load, who maintained or had recovery of CD+ T-counts to at least 500 cells/mm3,” write the authors. There have been significant improvements in HIV treatment and care in recent years. Anti-retroviral therapy has become more powerful, less toxic and easier to take. Data from cohort studies suggests that people doing well on treatment – often defined as the maintenance of an undetectable viral load and a CD4 cell count above 500 cells/mm3 – have a life expectancy similar to that of age- and sex-matched HIV-negative individuals.
The whole article which was published via NAM’s aidsmap you can read here.

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

Many gay men must come out twice…

Coming out as a gay man can be difficult as nobody can predict the reaction of family and friends. But many gay man have a second coming out when they are tested HIV positive. The second coming out can even be more difficult as there is a lot of stigma and discrimination visible also in the gay community. Kali Lindsey reflects on his own experience being a black gay man coming out twice. To read his statement click here.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , ,

Ball of HOPE 2020

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 23rd, 2020
5 months to go.

15th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 31st, 2020
10 months to go.
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