Holy See Statement at U.N. Meeting on HIV/AIDS

«Abstinence Must Be Included in the Discussion»

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NEW YORK, FEB. 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the statement by Archbishop Renato R. Martino, permanent observer of the Holy See, during today´s meeting of the preparatory committee for the special session of the U.N. General Assembly on HIV/AIDS.

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Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See welcomes this opportunity to participate in the preparation for the Special Session of the General Assembly on HIV/AIDS and share in the discussion of the Report of the Secretary General.

The Report gives a clear overview of the world situation and along with recent reports on the world´s social and economic situation, helps provide a better understanding of the enormity of the pandemic, in all its effects and consequences.

Part of the discussion during this preparatory process, as well as in the Special Session must center around human solidarity. That solidarity will emerge only when a real movement is made toward ways to provide the necessary care, treatments, medicines and therapies that will bring protection or relief from the effects of HIV and the opportunistic infections that are associated with the disease.

The Report of the Secretary General touches upon this issue but it is the opinion of my Delegation that more attention needs to be given to a comprehensive approach to care and treatment.

For example, the same solidarity, attention and resources that brought about the near eradication of the scourges of polio and small pox could be applied to confront the pandemic of HIV/AIDS.

With this in mind, the Holy See must restate its long standing and well known position regarding the spread of the disease. Abstinence, responsible behavior, the ability to be protected from the irresponsible behavior of others and increased awareness in ending the ignorance that allows the disease to continue to spread must be included in the discussion.

How should this meeting proceed? With the Report of the Secretary General as our guide, we must take a critical look at and expand upon the work of the recent Special Sessions of the General Assembly, during which states and civil society joined in the discussion of HIV/AIDS. We must ensure the participation of those who are on the front line of the battle against the pandemic as well as those who care for those affected by HIV and AIDS. And, we must once again see this not as a pandemic that seems so overwhelming but rather as a disease that affects one person, a family, a community, a nation and the entire world.

The importance of this upcoming Special Session can not be underestimated. It will provide an opportunity to discuss, address and establish a new solidarity in combating, caring, healing and curing. The whole world is watching, people are dying and the United Nations must continue to be seen as the place where the real discussion is held and hopefully, with God´s help, the place where the first leg of the race was won.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[Text supplied by Holy See mission]

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