God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

POZ magazine: Internet based HIV care

A group of HIV-positive people who received their health care via the Internet from a Barcelona HIV clinic felt that their care was comparable with—and potentially superior to—standard in-person care. These findings, published January 21 in the online journal PLoS One and reported March 21 on the website Computerworld, could offer hope to select patients in rural settings who must often travel great distances to receive specialty HIV care. By necessity, providers in resource-poor nations have been quick to adopt electronic communications as ways to provide health care. In countries where people are sometimes more likely to have access to a cell phone than running water or transportation, and where they must sometimes travel 100 miles or more to see a doctor, “e-medicine” has significantly expanded the reach of traditional health care.
Developed countries, including the United States, have been much slower to adopt these new technologies, partially because of concerns that e-medicine would result in poorer care, along with legal concerns about patient privacy. Recent positive experiences with using the Internet and telephones to extend and improve care for people with chronic diseases, such as diabetes, are beginning to tear down the walls that have kept e-medicine from wider implementation.
To determine whether e-medicine could be used in caring for people with HIV, Agathe León, MD, from the University of Barcelona, in Spain, and her colleagues set up a virtual hospital system in 2005 to help streamline care for patients in their HIV clinic. During the first two years of operation, León’s team tested its Internet-based system involving 83 HIV-positive people who were in stable health and had CD4s over 250. The study did not require participants to have an undetectable viral load or to be on antiretroviral (ARV) therapy—though about half were. All participants had a home computer and broadband Internet access.
Over the first year of the study, half of the group received their HIV care, pharmacy consultations, psychological care and appointments with social workers over the computer, while the other half received traditional in-person service. After one year, the groups switched their mode of receiving care. Participants went into local laboratories for any necessary lab work.

León’s team conducted detailed surveys of the participants throughout the study to assess their satisfaction with the care, their psychological health and their quality of life. Each participant’s CD4 count and viral loads were also recorded.
León and her colleagues found that patient satisfaction was high and that overall health and well-being—including CD4 counts and viral loads—were no different between those receiving care through the virtual hospital and those being seen at the clinic. This held true despite the facts that 7 percent started antiretroviral (ARV) therapy during the course of the study and 28 percent switched therapy. In fact, 85 percent reported that the Internet-based system actually made it easier for them to access the care they needed from their providers.
León reported that 200 people with HIV have now been followed through the virtual hospital.
“This program allows patients to continue their treatment without altering their routine. Medication is sent to their home, or other locations specified by the patient,” representatives for León’s clinic stated. “Telemedicine is emerging as a service appropriate for this treatment, and [the virtual hospital] as a safe and effective tool.”
It remains to be seen whether, or how, systems like these could be used with difficult-to-reach populations such as those with less access to modern technology, but experiments to test this are ongoing, especially in rural settings where access to quality health care is more challenging for people with HIV and other chronic illnesses.

Source:  http://www.poz.com/articles/hiv_emedicine_internet_761_20118.shtml

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

15.09.2010 Talking about time

Talking about time as I did in the last blog – once again time is faster flying than I can keep up with it.
The weekend saw me serving the Catholic Community in Belhar with a very interesting family mass on the Sunday morning. Preparation for the HOPE Cape Town management meeting and a talk, given to readers of “Die Zeit” , a German weekly newspaper, who were on a trip through South Africa. It is always interesting for me to hear opinions and different perspectives to our situation here in South Africa and to learn a lot about how our country is perceived in the first world.
HOPE Cape Town Management meeting yesterday with lots to discuss at senior level. Such a project is developing also in a rapid way and we have to be creative to keep on going in a way serving the communities. From an afternoon with management then directly to Brooklyn Holy Cross Primary School where we celebrated the Feast of the Cross with the school community.
This morning POZ meeting: the working group trying to put up a pastoral care structure for HIV positive priests and religious is battling a bit with the concepts some people of the church hierarchy have. It is not easy to find a way to serve those infected and affected in a sensitive and meaningful way if there is so much fear and phobia within the church tackling the pandemic within our own ranks. Fr Wim and myself had meetings in Rome about the subject in May this year and we intended to be back with first positive steps in November this year, but unfortunately it will take more time. So I canceled yesterday the Rome leg of the trip end of next month in the hope, that next year sees more results.

Making progress in sensitive matters within our church can be quite an issue; and it is not that people would not see the urgency of matters, but the apprehensibility in some quarters of our church makes it at times very difficult. On the other hand: we know that we are as the church moving: slavery, human rights, democracy – the latter have been directly from hell some time ago but today we are the champions when it comes to advocate them for others.
I ask myself whether we are so much different from other organizations – and I guess: no.

Well: Never give up was one of the favorite songs of our first HOPE Community Health Workers and I think, that is a good motto for the days and weeks to come.

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

13.05.2010 Finally Muenchen…

Last day in Rome and meeting with the Papal Council for Justice & Peace – a very intense and meaningful talk and we leave with the impression that it was more than good and just to approach this council for our work with HIV positive priests and religious. A lot to think about and a lot of planing ahead.
After visiting the church used by the prayer circle of St. Egidio in Rome and reminding us of all the modern martyrs we get to the airport to fly to Munich.

Our first meeting is with Prof. Beckmann from the TU Munich and we discuss certain aspects of common work lying ahead between the TU and HOPE Cape Town. Then after 10 pm we arrive at our hotel and we are left with a last drink while preparing for our first meeting tomorrow. A long day draws to an end and the 2nd ecumenical church day is waiting for us.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Networking, , , , , , , ,

20.02.2010 Time is flying

Saturday again – time is indeed flying and who says, that time is passing quicker when one gets older: that is correct. The time, I have felt in the earlier time for days, are now easy covering a months.
Yesterday I had my first meeting with the new Archbishop of Cape Town and we discussed some matters, amongst others the initiative of pastoral work for HIV positive priests and religious in our church. I hope to see in the next three weeks the chairperson of the Southern African Bishops Conference on this issue to move forward and to be able to report back in May, when I am in Rome.
HOPE Cape Town needed this week also some attention, sometimes there are times of multiple decision-making processes at the same time which binds all energies and needs lots of focus. At the same time I had to finalize the first planing of my next travels, which will bring me to Gauteng end of the month for two weeks, then in May to Italy and Germany and in July to Austria and Germany. In between a short break in SE Asia.

And when I thought that I don’t have to work during Holy week and on Easter – since Thursday I know that I will be busy and helping out on all those holy days. That will be the first time to celebrate all these mysteries in English; well as long as I don’t have to sing in English, I will survive. 🙂

It was a busy week and today I digged me into reading the white paper of renewal energy of the Western Cape to get a grip also on this topic. All the acronyms are a bit strange to me, but the material itself is not that difficult as I thought. Tomorrow then 2 church services which I will now prepare.

Filed under: General, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , ,

16.02.2010 POZ and CAN

A whole series of meetings today, amongst others one with our working group looking into the pastoral care for HIV positive priests and religious. We discuss the way forward and how important it is to back up our pastoral efforts with a proper theological and psychological consideration. Obviously it is compassion driving us, but is this enough? When we want to engage bishops and convince them to support us, it would be good for us to have done our homework. Obviously we also have to look at the scale of what we can do and how we approach it. A very constructive meeting and surely a big step forward.

Afterwards meeting with the Catholic Aids Network in Welcome Estate. We are still waiting for our constitution as requested by the National Catholic Aids office and we discussed in length the way forward. The topic HIV and AIDS has indeed changed in the last years and for many church groups and initiatives, it is one aspect of their work amongst others. This is different from when CAN started, where the support groups were partly marginalised and worked very isolated, thus needing much more networking and moral support. We also aim to have a service around World Aids Day, not only as a memorial service for those, who have died already, but also as a sign of encouragement for those, who are still working in this field. And I am convinced we have not reached yet the peak – the PEFPAR funding is going to get less, and we still have to catch up for quite some wasted years here in South Africa; the adherence will be a topic and a problem in the years to come. Whoever thinks, that HIV and AIDS is dealt with – I think the opposite. We still have a way to go – and if we not take care of this way, we will have to pay a costly price.  Between political declarations of intent and reality is here in South Africa still a big gap ( I guess not only in South Africa)…

HOPE Cape Town, Catholic AIDS Network, the poz initiative for HIV positive priests and clergy  and all the other local initiatives will be needed still for a long time…

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, Medical and Research, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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