Tag Archives: HIV/AIDS

“HAART in Art!”

Stefano Nobile, Msgr Robert J Vitillo from Caritas Internationalis with Luiz Loures, director of UNAIDS executive office and Sally Smith from UNAIDS.

Stefano Nobile, Msgr Robert J Vitillo from Caritas Internationalis with Luiz Loures, director of UNAIDS executive office and Sally Smith from UNAIDS.

Caritas recently employed a new strategy for its advocacy efforts – by participating in an exhibition at the United Nations Centre Geneva as part of the 22nd Session of the Human Rights Council, which was held during March.

The exhibit aimed to raise awareness among government officials and human rights experts about the need to provide access to early diagnosis and treatment for children living with HIV and Tuberculosis. “HAART” is an acronym for Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment, the combination of medicines that keep children healthy despite their HIV infection. Continue reading

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Male circumcision and preventing transmission of HIV from mother to child

What Does Voluntary Male Circumcision have to do with preventing mother-to-child Transmission of HIV? A curious question?  Well,  the Catholic HIV and AIDS Network (CHAN), of which the CI Delegation in Geneva serves as Secretariat and Caritas Ireland (Trocaire) staffer, Ms. Finola Finnan, serves as chairperson, recently provided us with an answer …

For the past two years, CHAN has followed closely the implementation of the UNAIDS- PEPFAR (US government AIDS Initiative) Global Plan to Eliminate New HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and to Keep their Mothers Healthy. In 2012, CHAN pursued research on the number of Caritas and other Catholic Church-related organisations engaged in the Global Plan and found that they were active in all 22 priority countries (21 in sub-Saharan + India) where 90 percent of all mother-to-child transmission occurs.

Recently, CHAN completed additional research on Good Practices among Caritas and other Catholic Church-related organizations in their efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and to promote early testing and diagnosis among mothers and children who already are living with HIV.

Of course, one major way to stop the transmission to children is to keep their mothers and fathers from being infected in the first place – that’s where male circumcision enters the picture. Studies have shown that men who are circumcised are more than 60 percent less likely to become infected with this virus. Of course, if the men avoid such infection, then there is no danger that wives may be infected by their husbands.

So the CHAN “Good Practice Study”, released, on 7 March 2013,  in Geneva, during the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, featured the work of Caritas member organisation from USA, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and of Catholic Medical Mission Board, in close collaboration with local Church partners to promote voluntary male circumcision in such countries as Kenya, Zambia, and Nigeria. Other PMTCT efforts by these organisations include formation of support groups for men (so that they will be more open to seek medical check-ups and counseling and to be treated for sexually-transmitted diseases); strengthening communication and marital partnership among couples through CRS’  Faithful House programme; involving husbands in their wives’ ante-natal care visits.

•    The CHAN study also identified a number of additional good practices, including: a voluntary HIV testing initiative conducted as part of the  “Uzima (‘Full Life’) Day”at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic parish in the Kangemi slum of Nairobi;
•    the Association Community Pope John XXIII’s Raimbow Project in Ndola, Zambia, which addresses nutritional needs of malnourished children but combines this with a large-scale VCT (voluntary counseling and testing) programme in the same district;
•    The Association Community Pope John XXIII’s Raimbow Project in Ndola, Zambia, addresses nutritional needs of malnourished children but combined this with a large-scale VCT (voluntary testing and counselling) programme in the same district.
•    Kitovu Mobile AIDS Organisation, sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Masaka, Uganda, solved transport difficulties by delivering ART to clients in hard-to-reach communities
•    Project Hope, an initiative of St. Martin de Porres Catholic Mission Hospital in Njinikom, Cameroon, which operates a “children’s HIV-friendly club” in order to improve anti-retroviral treatment (ART) adherence among some HIV+ 80 children under 15 years of age.

Read in greater detail about these  and other creative Catholic Church-related approaches to stop children from becoming infected with HIV and to diagnose and treat early those mothers and children who already have been infected by following this link:  report by CHAN

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A swell of voices to help children with HIV and TB

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US ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's observer to the UN in Geneva, were just two of the speakers on the first day of the Caritas/US Embassy to the Holy See AIDS conference. Credit: Caritas/Michelle Hough

By Michelle Hough, communications officer for Caritas Internationalis

If you think you’re too small to be effective, you’ve never been in bed with a mosquito, goes the saying.

Representatives from UN agencies, drug companies and NGOs and faith-based organisations large and small (but very effective) came to Rome mid-October to make headway on the desperate problem of children living with HIV and TB in poor countries.

The occasion was a paediatrics AIDS conference organised by Caritas Internationalis and the US Embassy to the Holy See. There were few mosquitoes around thankfully, but lots of ideas and discussion on the issues surrounding children with AIDS and TB.

One of the main messages to emerge from the conference on improving testing and treatment for these children was that while all the organisations worked well in their fields, their impact would be much greater if they joined their forces together. Continue reading

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Two women, two tales of HIV

Children not only are at risk of inheriting their mothers' HIV status, but also their hunger, poverty and lack of education.

Joyce, 11 months, is just starting on ARVs. Children are not only at risk of inheriting their mothers' HIV status, but also their hunger, poverty and lack of education. Credit: Caritas/Michelle Hough

By Michelle Hough, communications officer

Thabang Society, Parys, South Africa

Watch a film on the effects of AIDS in Swaziland and South Africa.

Sarah* has the face of a young girl, but at the age of 29 she has already been raped, has lost her husband to suicide and has lived through the deaths of her three young children to AIDS-related diseases. She herself also has HIV.

None of her children survived beyond the age of five. One died at just three months old. Two of her children died on her back as she took them to hospital.

After her first child died, Sarah didn’t want any more children, but her husband was abusive and left her with no choice but to get pregnant again, even though there was a risk the children would have HIV.

“Sometimes I just sleep because I feel so hungry that I don’t know what else to do,” says Sarah when I meet her at the Thabang Society therapy and counselling centre, two hours away from Johannesburg.

Continue reading

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Filed under Advocacy, Africa, Health, HIV & AIDS, South Africa