• Global situation worse than ever expected (originally it was thought that there might be 15 million HIV/AIDS cases by 2000; in fact more than 40 million by end of 2001, plus some 20 million cumulative AIDS deaths).
    Five million adults and children became newly infected during 2001 (and 3 million died of AIDS, i.e., about 6 every minute).
  • Although there are some signs of hope, in the absence of treatment almost all those 40 million will die in the coming few years. Clearly this is a lingering, protracted problem with long-lasting impacts.
  • Earlier estimates were that 13 million children would lose their mother or both parents to AIDS by 2001—that figure was already exceeded by 1999 when there were an estimated 13.2 million orphans.

  • Originally, it was never thought AIDS would cause population to get smaller, but this now seems inevitable in countries such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

  • There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Progress is being made on producing a vaccine, but it will probably be ten or more years before a vaccine will become widely available. Certain combinations of drugs (called anti-retrovirals)
    suppress the activity of HIV in the body for as long as

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    History has placed a great burden on our shoulders. As members of the human race and as educators, every one of us here today faces a task that has ramifications for the lives and
    well-being of countless individuals—adults, youth and children. Each of us bears the lives of others in our hands. The understandings we develop these two days, the decisions we make, the commitment we
    show, will not be confined to this auditorium but will have repercussions throughout the whole of South Africa and will echo from there into other parts of the continent and the world. Our task is
    simply described; its execution is difficult and challenging. Our job in these two days—and in the weeks that follow—is to establish a dynamic education coalition against HIV/AIDS that will accelerate
    the progress of South Africa and the world towards a world without AIDS.

    For too long we have been standing by—timid, confused, uncertain, feeling that we were powerless,
    wanting to do something constructive but not quite sure what. And all the time, men, women and children continued to be infected in their millions, to fall sick in their millions, to die in their
    millions. We work in the middle

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    The rationale behind the theme of this year’s Hekima Theological Week (January 2003) is well captured in the words of Tanzanian theologian Fr.
    Laurenti Magesa:

    “African theologians need to identify and reflect on the issues that touch them deeply, the hearts of today’s African men and women…. Certainly, after the massacre
    in Rwanda, theology in Africa cannot be the same as before…. I ask myself whether anything has changed in the method of catechesis, in the understanding of the Church, liturgy and prayer in Rwanda in
    particular, and Africa in general, after 1994. Eight years after the Rwanda sacrilege that stained the world’s conscience, theology and the Church in Africa must find a new way of catechizing in true
    conversion.” [L. Magesa, “African Theology and the Local Church: Positive Tensions,” in NEW PEOPLE, no. 81, Nov-Dec 2002]

    The Hekima Theological Week was graced with six
    speakers, and the final talk was “A Theological Research Approach to HIV/AIDS” by Michael Czerny, SJ, director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network – AJAN.

    As a newcomer to the
    continent, Fr. Michael began with some autobiographical notes and his own research agenda. Picking from the theme of the theological week, Czerny

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    Guide to humanitarian & development efforts of InterAction member agencies in DR-Congo - Angola | ReliefWeb

    We must speak out, speak very loud, raise our voice to break the silence, this taboo that prevents an honest discussion on AIDS. Silence prevents us from seeing, from looking squarely at this
    tragedy that is destroying our societies.

    December 1st, World AIDS Day, was for the agencies that are working to stop the pandemic an occasion to raise awareness of the damage that AIDS
    continues to inflict. In Kisangani, the commemoration began in the evening of November 30 with a conference organized by the Fondation Femmes Plus and sponsored by UNICEF, OMS and other
    international agencies. It was to be followed the next day by a motorcade. In fact, the conference was limited to city officials and the UN Mission in the Congo. We of the Christ-Roi (Christ the King)
    Parish had not received an invitation. Although we had registered to participate in the celebration, we were left waiting for an invitation that never arrived.

    On Thursday, November 28, we met with the
    youth leaders to see how we would celebrate the event.

    What to do? We figured it out. We would organize visits to our HIV+ brothers and sisters at the university clinics and …

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    On June 5th 1981 the United States Centres for Disease Control published a report about a new disease that was hitting gay men. That report ushered in the AIDS era. Twenty one
    years have passed since then, years in which the disease has grown to nightmarish proportions, with almost every passing year seeing the need to revise upwards already dire estimates and projections. In 1991, the World Health Organisation expectation was that by the year 2000 HIV infections
    worldwide would amount to some 20 million. The projection was almost three times short of the mark. Since the epidemic began, more than 60 million have been infected with the virus, at least 20 million have died of the disease, and a conservative estimate is that presently some 40 million people
    are living with HIV/AIDS.

    Education’s Significant Contribution to the Struggle with HIV/AIDS

    Currently there is no known cure for HIV or AIDS. Work on the development of a vaccine is proceeding, but
    none is yet available and the likelihood seems to be that ten years or more will pass before a universally available, affordable and easily applied vaccine comes on to the market. Drugs that hold HIV in abeyance are

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    Allow me to begin my address by thanking the authorities of the University of the West Indies for inviting me, as part of the University’s special response initiative to HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean Region,
    to share with you from my African experience. I am humbled and honoured that they have asked me to do so. But equally I am encouraged and heartened at the imaginative steps the University is taking to cope with this crisis. In the words of the united voice of Africa, enunciated in Addis Ababa in
    December 2000, “Success in overcoming the HIV/AIDS pandemic demands an exceptional personal, moral, political and social commitment on the part of every (person). Leadership in the family, the community, the workplace, schools, civil society, government and at an international level is needed to
    halt the preventable spread of HIV/AIDS”.

    The activities so far initiated in the University are incontrovertible proof of the existence of this exceptional personal commitment. They are also proof that the university leadership is ready to confront the AIDS
    epidemic through a more strategic, coordinated, programmatic response that will incorporate current individual initiatives into a broad institutional effort. I applaud the University for what it has accomplished so

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    1 December 2004


    To the Presidents of the Episcopal
    Conferences and to the Bishops Responsible for Pastoral Care in Health in their
    Episcopal Conferences, and to all the People of God


    Dear Brothers,


    1. For some years now, the World AIDS Day
    has been celebrated on 1 December. For this occasion, this year as well, I
    would like in my capacity as President of the Pontifical Council for Health
    Pastoral Care to send a message communicating the nearness and encouragement of
    the Church to all those who are fighting against this devastating pandemic, to
    those who care for and treat people afflicted by HIV/AIDS, and to these last,
    who are personally experiencing the mystery of human suffering. This year the
    organisation of the United Nations for the AIDS programme (UNAIDS) has
    dedicated this year to women, to girls and HIV/AIDS, because of their greater
    vulnerability, compared to men, to contracting the HIV/AIDS virus. A study has
    demonstrated that they are infected 2.5 more times than men.


    2. I share the concern of the international
    community about the dramatic picture of the consequences of this epidemic for
    the health, the living conditions,

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    HIV/AIDS is conceptualised as having the potential to affect education
    through ten different mechanisms: reduction in demand, reduction in supply, reduction in availability of resources, adjustments in response to the special needs of a rapidly increasing number of orphans, adaptation to new interactions both within schools and between schools and communities,
    curriculum modification, altered roles that have to be adopted by teachers and the education system, the ways in which schools and the education system are organised, the planning and management of the system, and donor support for education.

    Nevertheless, in
    the face of the epidemic, education can generate hope because of its potential to work at the three levels where AIDS-related interventions are needed:

    1. while there is as yet no infection: by providing knowledge that will inform self-protection; fostering the development of a personally held, constructive value system; inculcating skills that will facilitate self-protection; promoting behaviour that will
    lower infection risks; and enhancing capacity to help others to protect themselves against risk;

    2. when infection has occurred: by strengthening the ability to cope with personal and/or family infection; promoting care for those who are infected;
    helping young people stand up for the human rights that are threatened by

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    Chipo is worried about her eldest daughter, Tatenda, whom she believes is being
    sexually molested by her husband, Shamhu. Tatenda is 12 years old and is
    beginning to show signs of a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). Chipo is even
    more worried as she believes that her husband has HIV, the infection that will
    cause AIDS.

    What can she do? If she reports the matter to the police and her husband is
    arrested, tried and imprisoned, how is she and Tatenda and the other four
    younger children going to be able to live without Shamhu’s wages? If she reports
    the matter to Shamhu’s family they will not believe her, even if they know that
    she is telling the truth, as they will not want the stigma that goes with AIDS.
    If she persists in wanting the family to take action they are likely to keep her
    children and send her back to her own family who, in turn, will not want the
    shame of a returned daughter in these circumstances.

    Her own family would probably reject her and then she would be out on the
    streets with no resources and might have to turn to prostitution for a living.
    She knows …

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