Vatican Urges Help, as Well as Preventive Steps

Catholics Provide 25% of AIDS Care Worldwide

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NEW YORK, JUNE 28, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic Church, which is providing 25% of the health care given for HIV/AIDS worldwide, appealed for greater attention to the victims of the virus, and proposed a prevention plan that respects their dignity.



This was the essence of the address delivered by Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, at the special session of the U.N. General Assembly on HIV/AIDS.

When he distributed his address, the archbishop also handed out a letter of John Paul II to the assembly, in which the Pope expresses his concern over the spread of the virus.

"Faced with the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which presently affects 36.1 million people, the Holy See has at all times demonstrated its commitment to combating the disease," Archbishop Lozano said.

"Since the first appearance of HIV/AIDS just 20 years ago," he noted, "21.8 million people throughout the world have died of the disease, 15 million of them in Africa alone. Thus far, the epidemic has left 13.2 million children orphaned."

Archbishop Lozano noted: "John Paul II has affirmed that those suffering from HIV/AIDS must be provided with full care and shown full respect, given every possible moral and spiritual assistance, and indeed treated in a way worthy of Christ himself."

"In response to the Pope´s appeal," he continued, "12% of those providing care to HIV/AIDS patients worldwide are agencies of the Catholic Church, and 13% are Catholic nongovernmental organizations. The Catholic Church is thus carrying out 25% of the total care given to HIV/AIDS victims, which makes the Church the major supporter of states in the fight against this disease."

He added, however, that "it is better to prevent than to have to cure" AIDS.

"Regarding the sexual transmission of the disease, the best and most effective prevention is training in the authentic values of life, love and sexuality," the Mexican archbishop said.

"A proper appreciation of these values will inform today´s men and women about how to attain full personal fulfillment through affective maturity and the proper use of sexuality, whereby couples remain faithful to one another and behave in a way that keeps them from becoming infected by HIV/AIDS," the archbishop affirmed.

He noted that poverty is one of the greatest problems in the struggle against the virus in developing countries. "Unfortunately, in many countries it is impossible to care for HIV/AIDS patients due to the high cost of patented medicines," he said.

The archbishop quoted the letter the Pope addressed to the assembly: "The Church has consistently taught that there is a ´social mortgage´ on all private property, and that this concept must also be applied to ´intellectual property.´ The law of profit alone cannot be applied to essential elements in the fight against hunger, disease and poverty."

Archbishop Lozano said the Vatican wants governments to do all they can to fight the epidemic, which means to:

--allocate sufficient funds for combating HIV/AIDS;

--increase scholastic and extracurricular education about the values of life, love and sexuality;

--emphasize the equality of men and women, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against people suffering from HIV/AIDS;

--provide spiritual support for those living with the disease.