HIV workshops day 1

Participants at a Catholic networking meeting on HIV prior to the International Summit on AIDS in Vienna. Credit: Caritas Austria

by  Stefan Lechner, Caritas Austria

First of all, as promised in the earlier blog, outcomes of Friday’s sessions are summarised. (Catholic HIV and AIDS specialists met before then in Vienna before the International HIV Conference this week).

Moving from end-of-life-care to promotion of positive living with HIV

Participants in the workshop said that a major challenge is the needs of families affected by HIV or AIDS.

Another topic discussed was that of “positive prevention” – how to prevent further transmission of HIV within couples already experiencing the infection in one or both of partners.

And another problem is that clients might get dependent on the programmes they’re involved with and experience difficulties leaving it, as in many programmes everything is provided for.

Also a challenge is that programmes need to adapt as the situation changes.  With the introduction of antiretroviral therapy people have better prospects of life and programming should focus on that.

HIV and Addiction

In the workshop focusing on “HIV and Addiction”, medical and non-medical treatments were discussed. A key theme was that, in the absence of a conscious choice by a person to abandon the use of drugs, other measures are unlikely to work.

“Especially young people are very likely to get addicted,” said Dr. Dimitrov Ivaylo from Bulgaria. “As they consider themselves different from others. And often end up in the vicious circle of addiction.”

Very different approaches and experiences were discussed by the group (for example in relation to the issue to substitution therapy).

Spirituality and Pastoral Care

In this workshop possible approaches to capacity-building for clergy (including bishops), religious, and other pastoral agents were discussed, as well as participative approaches to such training.

Participants stressed the importance of listening, as every beneficiary has individual needs. It is important to be sensitive to the death experience, but it also is important to focus on survivors.

Work is challenging for people affected by HIV but also for those who work with them and care-givers often are at risk of burnout. It is important for all – persons living with or affected by HIV as well as care-givers to pay attention to their own needs. And not simply to wait for God to provide a solution for each and every human challenge.

An interesting general point was made by a participant from Mozambique. In some projects, “people celebrate every time some kind of support is not needed anymore”.

I take advantage of a break to also get some information on Rwanda. As there are many people everywhere we decide to have a walk in the garden of Kardinal Koenig Haus. We find a nice and calm place and sit down.

Dr. Kanani Prince Bosco starts telling me about Rwanda’s specific situation: “In Rwanda there are not only a lot of orphans because of HIV and AIDS, there are also a lot of orphans from the Genocide in 1994 (find the full interview in another blog).

Suddenly, we notice that a small animal is sitting close to us it seems as it is listening.

Quite surprised I ask Dr. Kanani Prince Bosco if he knows that animal. He replies that he had never seen something similar. I tell him: “That is a fox. Apparently a tame one.” A very unusual sight in the middle of Vienna.

As the fox is gone I ask him about his expectations for the congress he tells me: “My expectation is to get information and exchange best practices. See good programs that have shown success. We all have something to learn.

We all have something to share. It’s a good opportunity to learn and share.”

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Filed under Advocacy, Austria, Europe, Health, High-Level Meetings and Events, HIV & AIDS

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