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

More therapy = more unprotected sex?

Scenery around KLCC park at night

 KLCC park at night (Photo: Wikipedia)

There is the argument, that antiretroviral therapy seen as prevention could lead to more unprotected sex in the future. That, so argue the people following this line,  will jeopardize treatment success and discourage from using a condom or taking other measures of protection. On the 7th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Kuala Lumpur a study was presented addressing the issue. The results are encouraging:  A meta-analysis has found no increase in risk taking in people who are
taking antiretroviral treatment, compared to other people with HIV. In
fact, people on treatment had less unprotected sex and fewer sexually
transmitted infections. For more on this topic please continue reading here.

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

05.08.2009 some general thoughts about prevention work in the fields of HIV/AIDS

“A comprehensive HIV prevention package includes, but is not limited to, delaying sexual debut, mutual fidelity, reduction of the number of sexual partners, avoidance of penetration, safer sex including correct and consistent male and female condom use, and early and effective treatment for sexually transmitted infections.”

This statement of UNAIDS from 2008 is as valid today as it was at that time. What I like on this statement is that it really tries to cover all aspects of prevention without favouring one or the other or to demonise on or the other method of prevention. I guess this is the most important in prevention work as I do understand it: having no fear to discuss and name all aspects of preventing HIV transmission and giving the participants of workshops the tools to decide for themselves what and how they choose to protect themselves. Demonising either condoms or faithfulness or abstinence does not make any sense. And only naming what ones own ideology or faith seems to prescribe to oneself is also not enough. Diversity of prevention possibilities which could fit different lifestyle situations are important.

Doing prevention work, we last but not least must learn that at the end, we cannot change the behavior of the people, everybody can change only him- or herself. And we as activists are not responsible for what people doing, we are only responsible to give the utmost attention to detail to provide accurate and meaningful information.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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