God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

World Aids Day 2016

o-world-aids-day-facebook“Leadership. Commitment. Impact” so the slogan for the World Aids Day 2016 which the world will celebrate coming week. Signs are already visible – newspapers and magazines are publishing more and more stories about HIV and AIDS, marketing prescribes for many products and messages the red ribbon – and as always on the 2nd of December some reviews will end the frenzy and hype around the pandemic. The world is getting quiet again till next year same time.

“Leadership. Commitment. Impact” – when I look around the world in our days – there is neither responsible leadership nor commitment prominently visible. The global village is rather falling apart in nations of own interest again, in the USA a racist and misogynist is elected president, in Turkey there is a dictator in the making and right-wing politicians worldwide gain popularity by only looking to create walls and distances between people. In South Africa President Zuma and the ruling party miss the boat of leadership completely and run the country into the ground if it continues like this.

Maybe we expect leadership and commitment from the wrong people and parties. Looking at the AIDS pandemic we can learn that leadership did not come from those in power. US President Reagan did everything possible to ignore the pandemic, church leaders – and some until today – were calling it the punishment of God – no, leadership came from those who were at the margins of society – in this case the gay people who organized in a committed way resistance against ignorance, demanded public attention and at the same time cared with passion and compassion about those about to lose their lives in mainly young age. Those, who were criminalized, ostracized, punished and outlawed fought the fight and brought at the end even a global political body like the UN to dedicate a meeting on a pandemic – a first in the history of the entity.

HIV and Aids brought so the attention of the global village not only to its own plight, but other sicknesses torturing those living in Africa and other far away areas as seen from Europe and the USA came under the spotlight. Even a global fond was established – another first in this regard. Maybe it needs a drama of that magnitude to bring people together – to let them forget about their own interests only and to realize the interconnections of human mankind and creation as such.
HIV and Aids are not sexy anymore – medication has stopped the immediate carnage and prolonged life in theory for all, in practice mainly for those able to afford it. Looking at the figures we see that too many people don’t have access to treatment and the infection rates are climbing disturbingly in some countries again while others – like South Africa – remain stuck on a high level. The Global Fund is struggling to maintain its impact as countries don’t honor their commitments or paying less and less believing the pandemic is under control. Looking at other viral and bacterial diseases we know that this is false hope. Life is a bitch – and evolution at work and if we don’t watch out, chances are high that we see reruns of battles we thought we have won long ago.

I wish that World Aids Day 2016 is more than just a reminder of the plight of HIV positive people. I hope that this day also serves as a beacon of hope that leadership is coming back, commitment is not only pledged but practiced – and not only in handing out medication or testing people, but also to create a surroundings and environment that let people living with HIV live without discrimination and with proper access to treatment and care in a peaceful setting. The global village needs an urgent reminder in our days that we respectfully need each other to create a future where diseases are healed, pandemics are maintained, not only those of the body but also of the hearts and souls and minds of people.

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HOPE Cape Town is working in a holistic way to give young people living with HIV and related illnesses hope and a future.
www.hopecapetown.com / www.hopecapetownusa.com

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

Advent – Year of Mercy begins in Africa

Year of Mercy

The year of Mercy – beginning in Africa – holds also a message of hope for those thorn apart by stigma, sickness, hopelessness – it is a great entry for the day, we celebrate on the 1st of December: World Aids Day. A celebration that we are all called to turn stigma into blessings, like we are called to turn hate into love and war into peace. It is at the end all interconnected and it appeals not only to Christian but to all people of goodwill.

Sunday 29.11.2015 – Bangui CAR
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy has begun. It began more than a week ahead of the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis opened the wood and glass door of Bangui Cathedral in CAR just a short while ago. Before opening it, he spontaneously explained the significance of his gesture.
“Today Bangui is the spiritual capital of the world,” the Pope said. “The Holy Year of Mercy begins earlier in this land that has suffered for many years as a result of war, hatred, misunderstanding and a lack of peace.”
“This land of suffering is a reflection of all countries around the world that have experienced the cross of war. Bangui is the spiritual capital of prayer for God’s mercy. Let us all ask for peace, mercy, reconciliation, forgiveness and love. Let us ask for peace and reconciliation for Bangui, for the Central African Republic and for all countries afflicted by war!”
The Pope said we need to “free ourselves of divisive notions of family and blood in order to build a Church which is God’s family, open to everyone, concerned for those most in need. This presupposes closeness to our brothers and sisters; it implies a spirit of communion. It is not primarily a question of financial means; it is enough just to share in the life of God’s people.” He reminded the faithful that one of the most important duties of a Christian is “the love of our enemies, which protects us from the temptation to seek revenge and from the spiral of endless retaliation. Jesus placed special emphasis on this aspect of the Christian testimony. Those who evangelize must therefore be first and foremost practitioners of forgiveness, specialists in reconciliation, experts in mercy.”

“In every place, even and especially in those places where violence, hatred, injustice and persecution hold sway, Christians are called to give witness to this God who is love. … Thus what the pagans said of the early Christians will always remain before us like a beacon: ‘See how they love one another, how they truly love one another’.”

“God is stronger than all else…” … “This conviction gives to the believer serenity, courage and the strength to persevere in good amid the greatest hardships. Even when the powers of Hell are unleashed, Christians must rise to the summons, their heads held high, and be ready to brave blows in this battle over which God will have the last word. And that word will be love!”

“To all those who make unjust use of the weapons of this world, I make this appeal: lay down these instruments of death! Arm yourselves instead with righteousness, with love and mercy, the authentic guarantors of peace.”

 

Filed under: Africa, Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , ,

World Aids Day

World Aids Day – once in a year the world is obliged to think about HIV and AIDS and all those being infected and affected. When traveling in Europe I mostly encounter a sort of fatigue or ignorance towards the topic. It seems that HIV does not posses any treat anymore, opposite to Ebola which seems to be more threatening and dangerous than any other disease or syndrome. Gays, drug users and prostitutes/escorts – those are the main focus groups so they say and again we are back within the circle having to deal with those at the margins of society. If it would be only that easy: I guess that most of the 34 million people living with HIV are not part of one of these groups – and looking to South Africa, it is indeed women carrying the heaviest burden of the pandemic. Let’s be honest: the talk about healing, about the possibility of healing just around the corner waiting to be discovered soon has added to the perception that all is fine now. Having potent medication, even Truvada as a precautionary remedy – at least for those who can afford them – is another factor fueling the feeling of safety and relive.

From a South African point of view things are different: HIV remains a treat to humanity and the war has not been won yet. The opposite is true: the false feeling of victory has given rise to a relaxation of attention and donations and support are dwindling. It looks to me that all efforts have let to the possibility of turning the tide, only to stop  short before achieving it and falling in back in the mental trap or wishful thinking that having done so much should be sufficient. Hundreds of new infections per day are talking a different language in the country I am living in. And the menace of resistance even calls louder for attention than ever before. We also thought that the Mississippi Baby, treated early would show a success in treatment, only to turn out a failure. Vaccine trials didn’t achieved what we have hoped for and looking into the development of medication – there is not that much new on the horizon, rather combinations or different forms of intake.

The war is not over yet and HIV is not defeated – the goals of the world for 2015 are not achieved and we now hope for 2025 or 2030, pushing the finishing line even further away. I am not sure most people have heard or noticed how fast a Hepatitis C cure was found – and how fast the Ebola trials are moving. Most HIV cases are Sub-Saharan and it seems that this area and it’s people are not worth a more pushy effort to find a cure. It sounds sarcastic but the threat of a resistant heterosexual virus hitting the global village might be the only argument to get those who have forgotten about the danger and feeling save to engage again more actively and turn the tide and achieve zero new infections in the real sense of the word beyond the World Aids Day and some festive events during the year.

For war, oil, fight over resources, terrorism and so-called terrorism billions of Euros and Dollars are spent with ease – why not for the end of the suffering of 34 million people?

 

 

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

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

Interesting articles from all over the world

AIDS awareness in Chimoio

AIDS awareness in Chimoio (Photo credit: tonrulkens)

Another shot on interesting articles to broaden the view on HIV and AIDS and all what comes with it.

What’s wrong with World AIDS Day asks David Phillips and he has his very own thoughts about this international day. To read it click here.

This is one of the photos making headlines in the early days of HIV – giving it a grim face and showing all the suffering. It is shocking, but shows where we came from and what treat it is if the virus get’s again out of control. Click here.

Confession of a HIV vaccine trial candidate is another interesting story and gives an insight in a HIV negative person prepared to assist in such a trial. Click here.

Enjoy reading and have a great day.

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

14th HOPE Gala Dresden

HOPE Gala Dresden - the event to be in DresdenNovember 16th, 2019
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