God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

We demand a cure

The HIV activist Larry Kramer from the US gave an impassioned speech calling for a cure for the virus at a Gay Men’s Health Crisis gala (23.3.2015). The 79-year-old activist said that he no longer has “any doubt that our government is content, via sins of omission or commission, to allow the extermination of my homosexual population to continue unabated,” pointing blame at the U.S. president, Congress, the National Institutes of Health, and the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, for their inaction.

Even if this might be a bit of an overreaction, one can understand the frustration of being 34 years into the pandemic and a cure or a therapeutic vaccine seems to be far away. Knowing how much money has been gone to war and the destruction of people every year it is understandable that the plight and suffering of so many million people worldwide must cause an ongoing outcry. More so as it was the USA President Ronald Reagan who clearly missed the boat of stopping this pandemic in the early times because of his religious convictions not allowing to pay attention to the drama of gay people dying. He never acknowledged it contrary to the late Nelson Mandela, who also was silent during his tenure as president of the country. But he acknowledged at least afterwards that shying away from this topic because of his traditional upbringing was a big mistake affecting millions of South Africans.
It is true: We have achieved a lot – and for the first time a global initiative, the Global AIDS Fund, was able to coordinate the war against the pandemic on a global scale. But as time passes and medications are keeping the virus at least in the so-called developed countries at bay it seems the momentum is lost and there are only half-hearted efforts to stem the pandemic further. It seems that Ebola is now more frightening than HIV even if the numbers don’t match up at all.
I am convinced that if we don’t pay attention, HIV will come back to hunt the global village and when you have a close look at the development of multi-resistant TB it is only a question of time when this little bug called HI virus will go the same route. The human race tends to never learn that nature and creation on that level also strives for survival – and looking around and seeing all those infectious diseases and STIs we thought we have conquered and cornered: TB, polio, syphilis, Ebola… – there is still a long way to go and to underestimate a virus or bacteria has cost us dearly and will continue to do so.

Larry Kramer ended up his speech with: “We must aspire to a cure once and for all. Let’s demand a cure and a society that values people with HIV enough to pay for it. Only if we aspire to more can we demand more. Only if we demand more will we get more … The power to change history is still within our grasp. We cannot wait another 34 years. This evil still being waged against us must cease. The battle cry now must be one word: CURE. CURE. CURE.”

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

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

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