Saturday, July 19, 2014

25% of HIV - AIDS Care Provided by Catholics in World - Stats - Australia Conference

Catholics Provide More Than 25% Of HIV/AIDS Care Worldwide

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
17 Jul 2014
In 1980s, St Vincents Hospital Darlinghurst carried out the Sisters of Charity mission offering compassion and palliative care to those dying of AIDS
Catholic hospitals, doctors, nurses and the Church's international aid and development agency, Caritas Internationalis not only care for more than 25% of the estimated 38 million living with AIDS/HIV worldwide, but have been at the forefront in the battle since the first cases were reported back in the early 1980s.
"Catholics have been there since the very beginning but many in the world don't realise this and perceive Catholics as people who only say 'no' to the use of condoms or affairs outside of marriage. They don't see us in terms of our more than 30 years of commitment to those with HIV/AIDS," says American-born Monsignor Robert Vitillo, who for the past 27 years has been the full-time Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS to Caritas Internationalis, the aid and development arm of the Church.
"From the start Catholics have always believed that it is only significant and serious change in behaviour that will stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, rather than quick fixes such as the distribution of condoms or clean needles," he says.
Although the Church took heavy criticism for speaking out against the use of condoms to control the world wide HIV/AIDS epidemic, Mgr Vitillo who is also Head of the Caritas Internationalis Delegation to the United Nations, says the Church has been validated with increasing evidence showing behavioural changes are key to preventing the spread of the virus.
Mgr Robert Vitillo in Australia to attend the Catholic Pre HIV and AIDS Conference and next week's International AIDS Conference
"Within the UN more and more attention now focuses on abstinence and a reduction of the number of sexual partners," he says and cites nations such as Thailand, Uganda and Kenya where very high levels of HIV infections have been sharply reduced as a result of people limiting the number of their sexual partners and avoiding drugs and needles.
In Australia for the next 10 days, Mgr Vitillo will be one of the speakers at tomorrow's three-day Catholic HIV and AIDS Pre-Conference in Melbourne and next week will be among the thousands of national and international delegates at the world's 20th International AIDS Conference which is being held in Australia for the first time.
With delegates arriving from every corner for next week's International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Caritas Australia, St Vincent's Health Australia and Caritas Internationalis joined forces to sponsor a Catholic HIV and AIDS Pre-Conference.
More than 100 delegates from national and international Catholic agencies along with doctors, scientists, advocates and Catholic ministries working with those living with HIV/AIDS will attend the Pre-Conference which begins tomorrow to exchange ideas, explore the intersection between faith and science and address best practice in spiritual and pastoral care, ethical issues as well as a worrying drop in funding for many faith-based care agencies.
Catholic agencies and hospitals such as St Vincents led the way in care and compassion for those living with HIV and AIDS
In addition to workshops, panel discussions and forums, the Catholic HIV and AIDS Pre-Conference will feature outstanding speakers including former Ambassador to the Vatican, Tim Fischer; Chair of the Catholic HIV and AIDS Network, Fr Rick Bauer; Founder of Cambodia's Maryknoll, Sr Maria Leonor Montiel MM who cares for the poor who have been evicted from their homes including those with HIV and AIDS; Sr Barbara Staley MSC from the Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland; Professor Sheila Tlou, Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa and Minister of Health of the Republic of Botswana; and Steve Kraus, Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific.
Mgr Vitillo, who knows each of the delegates attending the Pre-Conference says he is particularly looking forward to the Plenary between four of the world's leading Catholic scientists to be held on Sunday morning, 20 July.
"They will be talking about faith and science and debunk the popular myth that if you are a good scientist you cannot be a person of faith. Not only do these four widely acclaimed scientists believe in God but believe even more strongly because of their research, convinced it had to have taken a supreme intelligent being to set up the processes they and other scientists are uncovering," he says.
Caritas tackles the spread of HIV in PNG with a proactive program of education, testing and treatment
The scientists who will take part in the Plenary are Professor David Cooper, Director of the Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity in Society and one of Australia's leading HIV clinicians; Professor Julio Montaner, Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia; Dr Stefano Vella of the Governing Council of the International AIDS Society, HIV and antiretroviral drug researching as well as serving as scientific advisor for the Italian Cooperation (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in African countries where he helps set up programs to combat HIV/AIDS.
Just as Mgr Vitello and Caritas Internationalis has been involved with the care of a large number of the world's estimated 38 million men and women living with HIV/AIDS, St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst has also led the way in the care and treatment of those with HIV/AIDS. In October 1982, doctors at St Vincent's diagnosed the nation's first case of AIDS and as a direct result, established what is now regarded as one of the world's leading centres of immunological research.
St Vincent's in Darlinghurst, which was founded by the Sisters of Charity more than 150 years ago, was the first hospital to treat HIV/AIDS patients. The hospital and its specialised clinic led the way in the compassionate care of the dying and their loved ones during Australia's AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and early 90s.
The government also gave the green light to the first needle exchange program.
However while much has been done in the way of care and medication for HIV sufferers the statistics here in Australia are stubbornly and alarmingly high.
Mgr Robert Vitillo is Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS for Caritas Internationalis and Head of the International Delegation to the UN in Geneva
In fact they are still at a 20-year high with an estimated 15 percent of Australians with HIV don't actually know they have the virus.
Researchers believe younger  men today are unaware of the early days of the AIDS epidemic and have drifted away from testing.
Many from St Vincent's involved in the care of those living with HIV and those leading the charge to find even more effective immunodeficiency treatments and antiretroviral drugs will attend both the three-day Catholic PreConference and next week's International AIDS Conference.
Convened every two years, among those attending the International AIDS conference are former US President Bill Clinton and artist, activist and founder of Live AID, Sir Bob Geldof.
But according to Mgr Vitillo the major topic at the International Conference set to make headlines will be the first-ever discussions about "the end of AIDS."
"This does not mean that AIDS will be eradicated," he cautions. "Unlike small pox there is no vaccination against AIDS or HIV and with the ability of the virus to keep changing, it is unlikely there ever will be," he says.
He also warns that despite all the research and efforts worldwide, once a person is infected with HIV there is no effective medication that will completely eliminate the virus.
Monsignor Robert Vitillo can see the day with HIV and AIDS are no longer a public threat but down graded to a public emergency
"But we are beginning to talk about HIV/AIDS not as a public health threat but as a public health emergency," he says.
While the statistics are still causing grave concern here in some countries overseas HIV is decreasing thanks to behavioural changes and the tireless work of many Catholic agencies who frequently educate and provide health care to as many as 70% of some of the world's poorest communities, but thanks to advocacy by the Church and NGOs with the world's pharmaceutical conglomerates, antiretroviral drugs are now available at an affordable cost in the Third World.
"Treatment with these drugs used to cost as much as $33,000 and only the very rich in Western nations could afford them. The price has since come down and as a result of advocacy, a person in Africa or other developing nations can pay as little $100. This is still a lot of money for people who earn almost nothing but with sponsors and international funds, we are able to help with this cost," he says.
The other great success of treatment for HIV that is helping stem the rate of infection are today's antiretroviral drugs. If taken early on by those diagnosed with HIV, it has been proven that as many as  96% of those on antriretroviral therapy will not infect their partners with the virus.
 Shared from Archdiocese of Sydney

Today's Mass Readings : Sat. July 19, 2014

Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 394

Reading 1MI 2:1-5

Woe to those who plan iniquity,
and work out evil on their couches;
In the morning light they accomplish it
when it lies within their power.
They covet fields, and seize them;
houses, and they take them;
They cheat an owner of his house,
a man of his inheritance.
Therefore thus says the LORD:
Behold, I am planning against this race an evil
from which you shall not withdraw your necks;
Nor shall you walk with head high,
for it will be a time of evil.

On that day a satire shall be sung over you,
and there shall be a plaintive chant:
“Our ruin is complete,
our fields are portioned out among our captors,
The fields of my people are measured out,
and no one can get them back!”
Thus you shall have no one
to mark out boundaries by lot
in the assembly of the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm PS 10:1-2, 3-4, 7-8, 14

R. (12b) Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
Why, O LORD, do you stand aloof?
Why hide in times of distress?
Proudly the wicked harass the afflicted,
who are caught in the devices the wicked have contrived.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
For the wicked man glories in his greed,
and the covetous blasphemes, sets the LORD at nought.
The wicked man boasts, “He will not avenge it”;
“There is no God,” sums up his thoughts.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
His mouth is full of cursing, guile and deceit;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He lurks in ambush near the villages;
in hiding he murders the innocent;
his eyes spy upon the unfortunate.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!
You do see, for you behold misery and sorrow,
taking them in your hands.
On you the unfortunate man depends;
of the fatherless you are the helper.
R. Do not forget the poor, O Lord!

Gospel MT 12:14-21

The Pharisees went out and took counsel against Jesus
to put him to death.

When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place.
Many people followed him, and he cured them all,
but he warned them not to make him known.
This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.

Saint July 19 : St. Arsenius : Hermit

St. Arsenius
Feast: July 19
Anchorite; born 354, at Rome; died 450, at Troe, in Egypt. Theodosius the Great having requested the Emperor Gratian and Pope Damasus to find him in the West a tutor for his son Arcadius, they made choice of Arsenius, a man well read in Greek literature, member of a noble Roman family, and said to have been a deacon of the Roman Church. He reached Constantinople in 383, and continued as tutor in the imperial family for eleven years, during the last three of which he also had charge of his pupil's brother Honorius. Coming one day to see his children at their studies, Theodosius found them sitting while Arsenius talked to them standing. This he would not tolerate, and caused the teacher to sit and the pupils to stand. On his arrival at court Arsenius had been given a splendid establishment, and probably because the Emperor so desired, he lived in great pomp, but all the time felt a growing inclination to renounce the world. After praying long to be enlightened as to what he should do, he heard a voice saying "Arsenius, flee the company of men, and thou shalt be saved." Thereupon he embarked secretly for Alexandria, and hastening to the desert of Scetis, asked to be admitted among the solitaries who dwelt there. St. John the Dwarf, to whose cell he was conducted, though previously warned of the quality of his visitor, took no notice of him and left him standing by himself while he invited the rest to sit down at table. When therepast was half finished he threw down some bread before him, bidding him with an air of indifference eat if he would. Arsenius meekly picked up the bread and ate, sitting on the ground. Satisfied with this proof of humility, St. John kept him under his direction. The new solitary was from the first most exemplary yet unwittingly retained certain of his old habits, such as sitting cross-legged or laying one foot over the other. Noticing this, the abbot requested some one to imitate Arsenius's posture at the next gathering of the brethren, and upon his doing so, forthwith rebuked him publicly. Arsenius took the hint and corrected himself. During the fifty-five years of his solitary life he was always the most meanly clad of all, thus punishing himself for his former seeming vanity in the world. In like manner, to atone for having used perfumes at court, he never changed the water in which he moistened the palm leaves of which he made mats, but only poured in fresh water upon it as it wasted, thus letting it become stenchy in the extreme. Even while engaged in manual labour he never relaxed in his application to prayer. At all times copious tears of devotion fell from his eyes. But what distinguished him most was his disinclination to all that might interrupt his union with God. When, after long search, his place of retreat was discovered, he not only refused to return to court and act as adviser to his former pupil the Emperor Arcadius, but he would not even be his almoner to the poor and the monasteries of the neighbourhood. He invariably denied himself to visitors, no matter what their rank and condition and left to his disciples the care of entertaining them. His contemporaries so admired him as to surname him "the Great".