At the crossroads

AIDS became known 30 years ago; since then, more than 30 million people have died from the immunodeficiency disease. Nevertheless, the rich industrialized countries continue to do too little – criticized not only by church aid organizations before the UN summit in New York. The meeting could be groundbreaking.

The Catholic relief organization Misereor and the Protestant development service criticized on Monday (06.06.2011) the balance of the past ten years. More than ten million people still do not receive the necessary treatment; in 2009 alone, 1.8 million people died of the immune deficiency disease because drugs were not available or were too expensive, said Misereor Executive Director Martin Brockelmann-Simon in Aachen.

In addition to state and government representatives, the United Nations will meet from Wednesday to Friday (10.06.2011) in New York included delegations from churches and other religious communities. It is to define the strategy for the next decade. The focus is on scaling up therapy. On 5. June marked the 30th anniversary of the. First scientific mention of HIV/AIDS in the newsletter of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Around 34 million with the AIDS virus
Some 30 million people have died from the immunodeficiency disease AIDS in the past three decades, according to the United Nations. The number of deaths related to HIV/AIDS in poor countries was particularly high. At the end of 2010, around 34 million people worldwide were infected with the HIV virus.

Around two thirds of those infected live in sub-Saharan Africa. "Thirty years after the outbreak of the epidemic in 1981, we are at a crossroads," said UNAIDS Strategy Director Bernhard Schwartlander. According to the aid program, in 2010 the amount of money available internationally to fight HIV/AIDS decreased for the first time in a decade; however, UNAIDS did not give concrete figures.

By 2015, the international community would need $22 billion annually to stop the further spread of HIV/AIDS. According to UNAIDS, large sums of money are lacking to provide life-prolonging antiretroviral therapy to needy people in developing countries. It currently benefits 6.6 million people in poor countries. Around nine million people currently in need of antiretroviral treatment did not receive.

UNAIDS also complains that 30 years after the first AIDS cases were reported, people living with HIV still face government harassment in many countries. Travel and residence restrictions for infected people existed in 47 countries worldwide. In many countries, the transmission of HIV is considered a criminal offense.

Vatican opposes exclusion of AIDS patients
An international conference on immunodeficiency diseases was held in Rome at the end of May. Also the Vatican turned here against a social stigmatization of AIDS patients. In its worldwide fight against the immunodeficiency disease, the Catholic Church is also concerned with overcoming prejudices that lead to the exclusion of this group from the family and society, said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. A further spread of the disease must be contained by effective preventive measures, which aim to teach a responsible and morally stable approach to sexuality.

At the meeting, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe called recent remarks by Benedict XVI. To the use of condoms in exceptional cases "as very important" for cooperation with the Catholic Church. It opens "a new space for dialogue," Sidibe said Saturday morning.

In an interview book with journalist Peter Seewald published in November, the pope had spoken of "justified individual cases" in which the use of a condom could be "a first step toward moralization" and "a first piece of responsibility" with regard to a risk of infection by an HIV-infected person. This applies, for example, in the case of prostitution. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had stated in an explanatory note that the Pope's statement referred exclusively to the case of prostitution.

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