God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

03.04.2010 Parliamentarians and UNAIDS seek HIV Travel Ban Removal Worldwide

March 31, 2010

Parliamentarians, UNAIDS Seek HIV Travel Ban Removal Worldwide

UNAIDS met with parliamentarians from around the world in Bangkok recently, calling for an end to all HIV-related travel restrictions, aidsmap reports. According to the article, 52 countries have some form of restriction on entry, stay or residence for people living with HIV, while 17 other countries prohibit even short-term visits by positive people.

“Travel restrictions for people living with HIV do not protect public health and are outdated in the age of universal access to HIV prevention and treatment,” commented Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. Former President George W. Bush lifted the United States’ HIV travel ban in 2008, but the new policy did not go into effect until January of this year.   Source: POZ – POZ Magazine – POZ.com – News : Parliamentarians, UNAIDS Seek HIV Travel Ban Removal Worldwide.

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Parliamentarians have joined with UNAIDS to call for the removal of travel restrictions for people with HIV.

Governments were urged to action by parliamentarians from around the world, meeting at the 122nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Bangkok on March 28th.  A total of 52 countries have restrictions of some type on the entry, stay or residence of HIV-positive non-citizens. China’s continuing near-total ban on visits and residence by HIV-positive individuals was exposed by the refusal of a visa to Robert Dessaix, a novelist who is HIV-positive.  A total of 17 other countries have restrictions on even short-term visits by people with HIV. These range from the complete entry bans in Singapore and the Sudan, to requirements for HIV testing for those wishing to stay in the country for longer periods, as is the case with Russia. “Parliamentarians have a duty to protect the rights of all citizens, including people with HIV,” said Theo-Ben Gurirab, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. “By placing restrictions on the travel and movement of people with HIV, we needlessly rob them of their dignity and equal rights.” Countries on all continents have restrictions on visits lasting three months or more, longer-term residence, or migration. Most of these entry restrictions date from the early days of the HIV pandemic, and were imposed in the mistaken belief that they would help control local epidemics. A number of countries justify longer-term bans as a way of protecting scarce health resources, or as a way of deterring “health tourism.” “Travel restrictions for people living with HIV do not protect public health and are outdated in the age of universal access to HIV prevention and treatment,” commented Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. In January 2010, the US removed its long-standing HIV travel ban.

Source: http://www.aidsmap.com/en/news/4227A15B-AAC5-4179-AB49-2572830C72C2.asp


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

22.09.2009 more fundamental questions…

In the last days I described my stance on mandatory testing and the pre-testing counseling. Having now more time to dedicate my energy towards the HIV/AIDS portfolio, there are more topics I feel are necessary to persue in the coming months and years. I have spoken already about the need to end the stigmatization within the health sector itself.  On the political front I can forsee to look more intensive into the question of travel freedom of people living with the virus. The ban to visit certain countries or the ban to get a work permit if you are HIV positive as you can find it in Australia, Singapore and many other countries is not only a sign of a lack of maturity of politicians in the respective countries but also a clear violation of human rights. I am aware that the UN, but also the German “AIDS Hilfe” is dealing with the issue, but we should all join hands and start to pressurize political systems allowing such violations of dignity and human rights.
In some of the blogs I mention the work with HIV positive priests and religious as well as seminarians. This is indeed a very tricky question and I hope that in October, when I am in Rom to meet together with Joachim Franz with the papal council for health care workers, to get this council on board to have a hard look how we deal with HIV and AIDS in our own ranks. Is the refusal to take a HIV positive person into e.g. monkhood or a seminary not a sign of fear and immaturity of the church? Are we as a church really allowed to deal with infected people in refusing them to follow their vocation? I am sure that God does not mind the status of a person. So we also shouldn’t mind the HIV status of a person. What kind of AIDS policies are regulating the life of the church and their institutions? Do we advocate the acceptation of people living with the virus only for the area outside the church? Tough questions, but we owe it the greater love of God to check our own balances on those questions and see whether they add up.

The ethical question of ceasing treatment if somebody does not adhere at all – also a tricky question. I mentioned the criminal law as a tool of prevention, which I find absolutely unreasonable in the way it is administered in most countries, specially also here in Africa.

Those are some of the questions in my mind, where I would like to contribute towards a solution which ends the madness of stigmatization and discrimination, which forces governments and churches to act reasonable and always upholding the dignity and human rights of every person.

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

21.08.2009 Judging people…

With the elevation of the Pius brotherhood through Benedikt XVI into the public eye we all can see and sense a new dawn of those, who are living in the past of the RC church and have refused to develop their faith. This in itself isn’t worrying. If people feel fine with the good old days and they want to keep them until they die – why not, if they apply it only to themselves. The danger is that with all the discussion now in the public forum, the old pictures from judgement, from evil, hell and condemnation, from a God acting like a policeman or a bookkeeper emerge again and that is the scary part. Reading about a priest in Austria starting to scare First Communion kids with hell and eternal condemnation – such teaching is surely encouraged through all the debate about the Pius brotherhood.

To spell it out again and again – and you can ask my community in Cape Town, they know it meanwhile and dream of it and can memorize it: God is love – unconditional love – and nothing ever can make us say that somebody has fallen out of the grace and mercy of God. Nobody! All those nevertheless doing it, denying that God is so much greater than all our thinking and understanding.

And this non judgemental unconditional love applies especially when it comes to such tricky topics like HIV and AIDS. There are no innocent babies and no not so innocent adults. There are only brothers and sisters with a certain condition. Point. No “Moralin”, no “Gardinenpredigt” – just acknowledgement, embracing of the condition and then the question, how to deal with it in a way beneficial to the person and his or her environment. Changing the stigma to a tool of compassion and mercy, self-knowledge and maturity.

I guess, if there is anything people living with the virus need besides good treatment and good friends it is people fighting like hell the stigma in our societies, fighting the travel bans, the discrimination, the human rights violations and fighting those who point fingers. And I have learned in my life: The more hostile people point fingers, the more they have to hide…

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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