A global obligation

The International Red Cross has announced a five-year program to fight and prevent AIDS. The focus of the measures is on sub-Saharan Africa, the International Red Cross Federation said at the World AIDS Conference in Toronto.

The International Red Cross has announced a five-year program to fight and prevent AIDS. Focus on sub-Saharan Africa, International Red Cross Federation says at World AIDS Conference in Toronto. "With more than 11 million people living with HIV, including 500.000 children, southern Africa is the epicenter of the epidemic," stressed Francoise Le Goff as head of the Red Cross in Zimbabwe. States such as Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe should be reached through local Red Cross and Crescent societies.

Still enormous stigmatization of the sick The aid organization did not give any details on the financial scope of the programs, which should start in the coming weeks. But by 2011, 250 would be.000 children to benefit from the measures. In addition to prevention and education work, the organization wants to focus on outpatient therapies and care for the sick at home. In this regard, patients could benefit from already existing structures of the national Red Cross organizations. In addition, the actions wanted to make a contribution to reduce stigmatization and exclusions of ill people. Special attention also paid to vulnerable populations such as prostitutes, he said.Scientists, AIDS activists and church representatives urge greater efforts to fight AIDS. "We will not succeed in providing access to HIV prevention and treatment for all unless there is a global commitment to align policies and anti-AIDS programs with the rights of groups most affected by HIV," said International AIDS Society President Helen Gayle. Poverty, gender inequity and stigma against the sick are still huge obstacles in the fight against HIV, they said.

Religious roadmap against HIV Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Toronto experts to review whether governments were living up to commitments made at previous conferences.This includes ending human rights abuses such as discrimination against women, drug addicts or homosexuals, he said. "To win against AIDS, we need more than official declarations at summits," said Joe Amon, responsible for the AIDS program at HRW.The AIDS representative at Caritas Internationalis, Robert Vitillo, called on the various religions and denominations to work together. He said it was time to coordinate individual actions and develop a common roadmap. However, the president of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Mark Hanson, pointed to major differences between religions in dealing with AIDS. "Cooperation is very difficult because we tend to distrust each other's faith and religious practices," the bishop said. Common ground and tolerance can only be achieved by listening to each other, he said.(CBA)

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