God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Sometimes it hurts… Another day @ the conference

Today, the second day of the conference, is my focal point more on HIV and faith-based organizations. So the day starts early with an interview for the Catholic “domradio” in Cologne. Next to networking with people of this field I also read some comments about the conference and one got my attention immediately. It is written by Dr P. B. and published not only on his blog but also on the internet news of kath.net, a more right-wing Catholic news website in the German language.
The headline “what really helps against new infections” got as said my attention and already the first sentence of the article gave the answer: “With the simple approach to live chaste till marriage and then be faithful to the partner within marriage 99% of all risk factors are eliminated”.
Wow, I thought really impressive. And I guess with a similar strategy can we can empty our prisons as everybody has to remain honest and non-violent instead of stealing or murdering someone and the problem is 99% solved. The logic of the article culminates in the argument, that people become infected because they don’t listen to the pope – and mentions Africa and specially Catholic areas on the continent where such prevention work has great success.

Such argumentation makes me speechless, but I was comforted through a podium in the afternoon where a pastor from Malawi told us about his experience in seeing HIV and AIDS as a challenge to come out of our comfort zones church normally provides and to give answers needed ending stigma and discrimination. He also was very critical of certain forms of development aid European or US style: “Africans can think of their own” , so the pastor and the audience underlined it with laughter and applause. An US American pastors wife told us from her experience working in Rwanda and a Thai monk about the great work, he is doing on the level of interfaith. He and his fellow clergyman, monks and imams are also looking for those caring for people living with HIV and AIDS. A humbling experience just to listen how those people gave witness about their calling to get involved in the battle against the pandemic.

This is what we need in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples: people who believe honestly that HIV and AIDS is a challenge, not only for a personal life, but for the way we believe, we pray, we worship, we see our brothers and sisters. Yes, we need those people in our churches, mosques, synagogues and temples who are not afraid to open up, network beyond the borders of faith and denomination or religion. We need people who are simply not afraid to listen to their calling which overcomes human boundaries and is driven by the unconditional love towards their fellow neighbors.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Networking, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

09.09.2009 a new arrest in Germany

A 49-year-old man is arrested in Germany for having sex without a condom with two women. It is alleged that the man did not disclose his status before having intercourse. I must say that the German tabloids are at their best when it comes to such stories. First the German singer, arrested with lots of publicity – and now the next case.

I must say that I don’t agree with the basics of such cases. If consent adults have a sexual relationship or a sexual affair both parties are responsible to negotiate safe or unsafe sex. It cannot be that only one of the two takes the full blame and consequently legal punishment while the others are portrait as pure victim. My sense of justice and fairness does not agree.

I do agree that there must be consequences when somebody lies in knowledge of his or her HIV infection when asked before having sex or he or she is not insisting on condom to prevent infection.

For the prevention work of HIV and the quest to de-stigmatise the infection, those cases are a nightmare – and they are handled in a fashion which basically adds to stigmatization and will produce at the end less testing and more infections. The criminal code is not a good tool to prevent infections or combat HIV and AIDS.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Politics and Society, , , , , , , , , ,

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