God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

HIV – curse or blessing?

For most people, on first side a pandemic is surely seen as a curse translating into sickness. In the case of HIV- without treatment – it turns into full-blown AIDS and consequently death. Who does not remember the eighties: a quick and cruel death for young people, killed in the prime of their lives.
HIV also means evolution: a small little bug jumps onto a different host and kills the host. Not intentionally of course and it will take a quite some time, maybe a couple of hundred years to develop into a symbiosis which lets bug and host live peacefully together. Otherwise it’s a dead-end for evolution and will at a certain point cease to exist.
HIV is a challenge: In the 1980’s the scientific world raced to find an answer what causes the syndrome. To isolate the bug, to find anti-bodies and consequently a test to determine infection and last but not least to develop first medications working to prevent full-blown AIDS took its time and toll. But HIV is also a challenge for every human being: transmission via bodily fluids means it touches on one of our strongest drive and urge: sexuality. And who controls this desire controls humans – just look into the history of religion and the significance of the control of sexuality via faith.
HIV mixes categories normally separated in society: youth and death. Death is anyhow so often hidden in modern society; now associated with youth and radical eradicating the beauty of it destroys the unspoken view how society works and develops. It changed the rules of engagement on that level dramatically and still does it in developing countries.
HIV means to open up to people living and loving in same sex relationships. Coming from the dark and hidden corners of social life gay people suddenly stood in the limelight of society. HIV and AIDS was part of a sometimes cruel outing process. In our days HIV is globally not anymore associated with homosexuality but the pandemic, almost as a side effect, opened up society to look at different life styles. And without any doubt the solidarity in gay circles in the beginning of the pandemic for their infected friends and partners was an impressive show of compassion and left traces which transformed into signs of normality and acceptance for gay love in the Western hemisphere. Obviously this triggers an antidote from the radical – fundamentalist side of society, mainly coming from the USA in an evangelical form even telling Africans what African culture means in Africa.
HIV is clearly a challenge for politicians and it was HIV which was put on the agenda as the first medical condition dealt with by the UN. This opened doors for other discussions on a global base like on Malaria or TB or all the other forgotten sickness of Africa and South America. We were reminded that they also kill millions a year and that they are in need of being addressed properly. The Global AIDS Fund was a first instrument of tackling a medical challenge on a global scale and not via bi-lateral negations which normally don’t’ see the full picture and are rather small –minded.
HIV means a challenge for society. While in Germany the campaign “Give AIDS no chance” with the commitment of the entire government prevented the pandemic to get into full swing, other countries and governments did not wake up to respond to the treat timely. The bible is right, that the sin of the fathers, in this case the sin of neglect comes onto the children and grandchildren. South Africa, but also Swaziland, is an example of failure with the result of hundred thousands of death and a generation born and plagued by HIV. What a challenge for the social coherence of society.
HIV translates into a challenge for religion, for our faith. Just a look at Ronald Reagan, who refused to act on the first reports of the new disease as it seemly “only” targeted gay people. His faith told him that they anyhow did not live according to God’s moral code; somehow no real action was needed. It reminds us also in this context of all those clerics calling the HIV pandemic the punishment of God for Sodom and Gomorrah in our times.
HIV is not a punishment but a clear sign of the time to reflect on our Christian theology – it has shown clearly that answering new questions with old answer do not serve humanity. The opposite is true: it endangers life. The question of protection cannot be answered with the reply given by authorities quite some time earlier on the question of procreation.
And how about the single human being infected with the HI Virus?
The challenges and reactions are as different as people are different: shock, disbelieve, despair, give–up mentality, defiance, hope….
What is indeed an almost general rule I discovered with people living positively is that after the balance in life is found again, there is a new sense for health and the value of life. HIV has shown how fragile life is and treatment has given almost the opportunity for a second chance in life. People infected mostly have a peace treaty with their boarder – always present even when tested undetectable. There is also the sense of gratitude and somehow, even if it sounds absurd, it changes from being a personal curse into a blessing. And I strongly believe that church should be and could be promoter of this transition, personal and in communities where stigma could be transformed into a blessing. The Catholic Student organisation of South Africa maintains in one of their publications that people living with HIV cannot live life to the fullest as stipulated in John 10.10.
They are wrong: God is giving everyone in his unconditional love the possibility to life their life to the fullest – for him, sexual identity or preference is not a hindrance nor is race or income or any other ability or disability or HIV or AIDS.
You will be a blessing for others – this promise of God applies to everybody who lives and loves with or without HIV.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UNAIDS congratulates Mongolia for removing restrictions on entry, stay and residence for people living with HIV

The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) welcomes the recent law reforms in Mongolia that have removed all travel restrictions and other discriminatory provisions for people living with HIV. The reforms which were passed by Mongolia’s Parliament in mid-December of last year took effect on 15 January 2013.

The Law on Prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome removes all HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence. Foreigners applying for visas to Mongolia are no longer required to disclose or provide documentation of HIV status.

“I commend Mongolia for taking this bold step and I hope this will encourage other countries to follow their example and move the world towards zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination,” said Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director.

UNAIDS advocates for the right to freedom of movement—regardless of HIV status. There is no evidence to suggest that restrictions on the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV protect public health.

Mongolia’s reforms also removed employment restrictions that prevented people living with HIV from undertaking certain jobs, including in the food industry. The new law has also encouraged the creation of a multi-sectorial body comprised of government, civil society and private sector representatives to help put in place the reforms.

With the removal of Mongolia’s restrictions, UNAIDS counts 44 countries, territories, and areas that continue to impose some form of restriction on the entry, stay and residence of people living with HIV based on their HIV status. There are five countries with a complete ban on the entry and stay of people living with HIV and five more countries deny visas even for short-term stays. Nineteen countries deport individuals once their HIV-positive status is discovered.

 

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

World AIDS Day around the corner

Once again it is short before World AIDS Day and as usual on such a day and before, the media and the politicians have their say about success and failures of HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention work, vaccine studies and all the rest. Once a year the world is made aware of the syndrome killing still scores of people and triggering despair, tears, hopelessness, desperation but also a willingness to fight and not to give up. Have we done enough in the time since the last World AIDS Day? Has research been successful in coming closer to a vaccine? Have fewer people been exposed to the virus? Is there more prevention willingness and treatment options in the global village? Well, according to UNAIDS yes, we have done major steps in the right direction, but we also know how close we are to fail millions of people because of lack of funding. The economic meltdown, the financial crisis, the Euro battle captures our minds and hearts and I wish one would worry as much about those suffering from HIV or TB or Malaria or any other of theses for poor people mostly life threatening diseases. While the USA and other Countries spend millions and millions a day for the war in Afghanistan or undercover in Syria or elsewhere research and the good thing s for live have still to struggle for funding. The world has indeed not learned the lesson of holding up the dignity of people, instead it pays for the destruction of land, people and material goods.

While I appreciate the progress and worry about the still high numbers of non-treated people and new infections, I cannot be silent about the injustice which is reflected in the battle against HIV and AIDS. And this pandemic is only an example that we are as human mankind still far away from getting the values right we proudly proclaim in our national constitutions: that life and dignity is to be protected at all times and all costs as it is the highest value we have.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Good news and blood on the hands..

6.2 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are on anti-retroviral treatment in the moment, an unthinkable number of people some years ago. That is the reason why cutting the funding of UNAIDS and the Global Fund would spell out disaster. The opposite should be the case to beat the pandemic: 1.1 million people more on treatment since 2010 – let’s double the number in the next years every year and get the now 56% of people on treatment to the 100%. Treatment is prevention, we would  cut down with new infections a great deal.

Also the price cut from US $ 15.000 to US $ 80 today – what an achievement. Let’s not play with what we have achieved so far because with the exception of South Africa, most treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa are funded from outside Africa. So we need the world to continue assisting us in the fight. And not only in funding, but also in watching out when doing trade agreements. 80% of all drugs coming here are from India. And we know that some European states and the USA are trying to cut down on the Indian ability to produce those life-saving drugs for trademark infringements. Every trade agreement which stops India to produce those drugs is a death sentence for people in Africa and in other places around the world. So one can only ask those in charge of negotiations to have these facts in mind and not ending up to sign up for bi-lateral agreements with the consequence of having blood on their hands.

Filed under: General, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UNAIDS: Treat 15 million by 2015

by Keith Alcorn (published: 06 June 2011 copyright UNAIDS)

Global funding for AIDS needs to increase by one-third in the short term and by 20% in the longer term in order to achieve a radical reduction in new infections within a  decade, according to projections issued on June 3rd by UNAIDS. UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé told reporters ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS, that UNAIDS was pushing world leaders to commit to a target of treating 15 million people by 2015, and to a major increase in funding in order to decisively alter the course of the epidemic over the next decade. The agency also reported that 6.6 million people worldwide are receiving antiretroviral treatment, with 1.4 million people starting treatment in 2010 alone.  UNAIDS estimates that 34 million people are living with HIV worldwide. According to the AIDS at 30 report, the global rate of new HIV infections declined by nearly 25% between 2001 and 2009. In India, the rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 50% and in South Africa by more than 35%; both countries have the largest number of people living with HIV on their continents.

However UNAIDS also reported that funding for HIV prevention, treatment and care fell for the first time in 2010.

“I am worried that international investments are falling at a time when the AIDS response is delivering results for people,” said Mr Sidibé. “If we do not invest now, we will have to pay several times more in the future.” A highly detailed modelling exercise led by the World Health Organization suggests that an increase in funding of one-third between now and 2015, coupled with a much tougher approach to funding only what is known to work, could avert 12.2 million new HIV infections over the next decade. What UNAIDS and WHO call an investment framework is led by the principles of `know your epidemic and know your response`, and seeks to channel funds in a much more rigorous way towards interventions that are known to work, and towards populations at greatest risk of infection. The modelling work found that the most targeted approaches were likely to have biggest impact on new infections. For example, a comparison of a `broad and shallow` or a `narrow and deep` programme in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, found that achieving 80% coverage of antiretroviral therapy and circumcision of 70% of uncircumcised men had a substantially greater effect on HIV incidence over ten years than a wider programme that also sought to increase condom use, counsel individuals on risk reduction and promote microbicide use in women, all at low levels. The `broad and shallow` approach assumed much lower levels of treatment access and circumcision. The impact of a `narrow and deep` approach was even more profound in Karachi, Pakistan, where a highly targeted approach that focussed on 80% treatment coverage and 80% access to needle exchange and opioid substitution had a much greater impact on new infections than a broad approach which delivered lower levels of treatment and harm reduction alongside behaviour change interventions. The `narrow but deep` approach might reduce new infections in Karachi by over 80% within six years, the modelling exercise concluded. However, the researchers are not advocating that all countries follow this approach; the allocation of resources is highly dependent on the epidemiological context. The model estimated resource needs for 139 countries based on epidemiological data and information on current coverage of prevention, treatment and care.

The model showed that if applied across all countries, global resource needs would rise from the current need of $16 billion per year to peak at $22 billion in 2015, before beginning to fall back gradually as a result of economies of scale and a decline in new infections. Requirements for the core programme activities – treatment and care, condoms promotion and distribution, prevention of mother to child transmission, male circumcision and behaviour change programmes – rises from $7 million in 2011 to $12.9 billion in 2015 and then falls back to $10.6 billion in 2020. This costing assumes that 13.1 million of the 18.3 million people eligible for treatment will be receiving it by 2015, and 18.7 million by 2020. Expanding treatment to provide antiretrovirals to all HIV-discordant couples where the partner with HIV has a CD4 count between 350 and 550 – the group studied in the recently announced HPTN 052 study – would increase the number in need of treatment by 1 million in 2015, and would add $500 million to the cost of the framework package by 2015.

New infections are predicted to decline from about 2.4 million in 2011 to 1 million in 2015 and 870,000 a year in 2020. The new framework could avert 12.2 million new infections between 2011 and 2020, including 1.9 million in infants. In addition, expansion of treatment would avert 7.4 million deaths over the same period. Treatment for HIV-discordant couples above the currently recommended threshold for starting treatment would avert an estimated 340,000 infections. The researchers estimate that the cost per-life year gained of the interventions in the framework is $1060, making it affordable for even the poorest countries. Any health intervention which costs less than the GDP per capita of a country is judged highly cost-effective by the World Health Organization. The massive expansion in treatment numbers would be facilitated by community mobilisation and by large reductions in the cost of drugs and treatment delivery, the authors say. In particular the model assumes that previous cost reduction trends will continue, allowing a 65% reduction in the cost of treatment between 2011 and 2020. A shift towards delivery of antiretroviral treatment through primary care and community-based care will be critical in achieving the cost reduction. But reluctance is being expressed by the governments of wealthy country governments to sign up to new targets for treatment expansion at this week’s UNGASS meeting. Furthermore, activists monitoring the negotations on a final declaration say that wealthy countries are also trying to water down any commitment to improve access to medicines in the final statement. “We are seeing an unusual position being taken by the EU which is refusing to commit to any treatment targets and at the same time is working with the US to remove or significantly dilute any language in the text related to increasing access to safe, effective and affordable generic medicines,” said Matthew Kavanagh of Health GAP (Global Access Project).

Language proposed by the nations facilitating the UN process, Botswana and Australia, on trade agreements and the removal of any and all TRIPS-plus measures from free trade agreements has been rejected by the EU. They are joined in this by the United States and Japan. TRIPS-plus measures seek to enforce higher standards of intellectual property protection on developing countries as the price of access to the markets of the wealthiest nations. These measures may undermine opportunities to use TRIPS flexibilities that allow low and middle-income countries to manufacture and / or export antiretroviral drugs that are still patented in wealthy countries. These measures may stand in the way of manufacturing new antiretroviral combinations that are cheap, less toxic and less prone to drug resistance, and may also choke off the supply of cheap drugs for second-line antiretroviral treatment in those whose first drug combination has failed to control HIV.

Reference

Schwartlander B et al, on behalf of the Investment Framework Study Group. Towards an improved investment approach for an effective response to HIV/AIDS. The Lancet, advance online publication, June 3, 2011. (View full text article here).

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

12th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenOctober 28th, 2017
9 days to go.

Ball of HOPE 2018

Join us @ The Westin in Cape TownMay 12th, 2018
6 months to go.

Blog Categories

Block Entries Calender

October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Stefan Hippler Twitter Account

HOPE Cape Town Twitter Account

  • Thanks Gabriele Centu and all the school teachers, staff and learners for the opportunity to speak about HOPE... fb.me/3brZFV9kr - 9 hours ago

You can share this blog in many ways..

Bookmark and Share

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,025 other followers

Translation – Deutsch? Française? Espanol? …

The translation button is located on each single blog page, Copy the text, click the button and paste it for instant translation:
Website Translation Widget

or for the translation of the front page:

* Click for Translation

Copyright

© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This not withstanding the following applies:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

%d bloggers like this: