Prevention Part of AIDS Fight, Cardinal Tells U.N.

Vatican Official Explains Church's Efforts

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NEW YORK, JUNE 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A cardinal reminded a high-level U.N. meeting that one of every four AIDS patients in the world is treated in a Catholic center.



Representing the Holy See, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán also pointed out the work of prevention promoted by the Church, based on "information and education toward proper behavior, so as to avoid the pandemic."

The cardinal, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, on Friday addressed the meeting held by the U.N. General Assembly. The U.N. event began last Wednesday.

He began his address by transmitting Benedict XVI's greetings "to all who are engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS."

"The Pope is deeply concerned about the spread of the illness and guarantees both the continuity and the increase of the work that the Catholic Church does to stop this scourge," said Cardinal Lozano Barragán.

Explaining the Church's action in this area, the cardinal revealed that "26.7% of the centers that treat people infected with HIV and affected by AIDS in the world are Catholic-based."

This work entails "the training of health care professionals, as well as prevention, treatment, care and assistance," he added. "In all these stages, we accompany the sick and their respective families."

Caritas' work

This assistance is possible thanks to various Catholic institutions, the Holy See representative said. He explained specifically that Caritas Internationalis is engaged in this endeavor in 102 countries.

The cardinal, 73, also mentioned several congregations and associations working in this sector, including "the Vincentians, Caritas, Sant'Egidio, Camillians, Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, Jesuits, Sisters of Mother Teresa, Child Jesus Hospital and Catholic pharmacists."

Speaking about prevention, the cardinal explained that "in the field of education and formation, the contributions of the family prove to be extremely helpful and efficacious."

Information and education is done "through publications, conferences and the interpersonal sharing of experiences and skills," he added.

"As for health care and assistance to the sick, we, among others, stress the formation of physicians and paramedics, of chaplains and volunteers," Cardinal Lozano Barragán said. "We fight the stigma, facilitate testing, counseling and reconciliation. We provide anti-retrovirals and drugs to stop the vertical transmission -- mother to child -- and also promote measures to stop the blood contagion."

Widows, orphans

"In the area of caring and accompaniment of the sick, we stress avoiding contagion, taking care of orphans, widows and people with AIDS who are in prison," the prelate said. "We are helping with the social reintegration of HIV positive people, and collaborate with governments and other institutions both on the civil and ecumenical levels."

Finally, Cardinal Lozano Barragán mentioned the economic aspects, and noted that Pope John Paul II "established the Good Samaritan Foundation to support the neediest people, especially those afflicted with AIDS."

"To date, we have facilitated the acquisition of anti-retrovirals for centers in 18 countries: 13 in Africa, three in America and two in Asia," the cardinal added. "The funds given to these centers came from the contributions of Catholics in 19 countries, from America, Asia, Europe and some from Africa itself."