‘Stepping up in faith’ is the theme of a conference which opens in […]
17/07/2014 • 10:00
‘Stepping up in faith’ is the theme of a conference which opens in Melbourne, Australia on Friday bringing together Catholic experts from around the world in the fields of prevention, diagnosis and care of those living with HIV and AIDS.
The meeting comes just ahead of the 20th International AIDS Conference which will be taking place in Melbourne from July 20th to 25th. It’s the first time such a major gathering on the pandemic is being held in the Pacific region, with over 25.000 participants exploring the latest data from scientific, political, financial and civil society perspectives.
Among the most experienced Catholic voices taking part in these meetings is that of Fr Robert Vitillo, special advisor on HIV-AIDS for the global aid and development confederation Caritas Internationalis. Philippa Hitchen spoke with him to find out more about the theme and the goals of the two day Catholic pre-conference:
Fr Vitillo says the theme is a response to the encouragement of UN and other public health people for the Church to do even more than it has already been doing in response to HIV and AIDS. In particular, he says, it’s important to increase the Church’s involvement in early diagnosis and treatment of HIV because it has the beneficial effects of helping people to maintain healthy immune systems and avoid AIDS related diseases or early death.
But he says it also has the added benefit – as has been more recently discovered – of preventing people living with HIV from spreading the infection. It’s been shown in many countries, Fr Vitillo notes, that people on treatment are 96% less likely to transmit the virus, even to their intimate sexual partners.
We want to step up our involvement, he says, while retaining our unique Catholic identity and our approach to caring for the whole human person….