Cardinal Bertone Calls for Free AIDS Treatment in Africa

Pope’s Secretary of State Says Universal Access to Treatment Is Not a Utopia

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ROME, JUNE 22, 2012 ( Benedict XVI’s secretary of state called today for access to free treatment for AIDS, as he gave the opening address at the 8th International AIDS Conference.

The event, being held at the San Gallicano Institute in Rome, has the theme «Long live mothers and children.»

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone made a strong appeal for international cooperation to assist AIDS patients. «In the presence of so many authoritative ministers and persons in charge of health care, I would like to address an appeal to the international community, to states and to donors,» he said. «Let us provide soon to AIDS patients free and effective treatment! May universal access to treatment be agreed! Let us do so beginning with the mothers and children. In this See, in the name of the Holy Father, I make myself the voice of the many who are suffering, of so many patients who do not have a voice. Let us not waste time and invest all the resources necessary!»

Citing programs sponsored by the World Health Organization and the Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, the cardinal said studies confirm that «universal access to treatments is attainable, scientifically proved and economically possible. It’s not a utopia: it is possible!»

He called it a duty to reach every pregnant woman with the virus and provide her the therapies to prevent her child from being infected.

Economic weakness

In this regard, Cardinal Bertone said cost shouldn’t be an obstacle. «We cannot conceive access to treatment for all without considering the weakness – also economic – of the majority of the African populations and women. There is need for free access to treatments.»

«We cannot continue to tolerate the death of so many mothers; we cannot think of thousands of children as a lost generation. Nothing is lost: Africa has sufficient energies and it is the Continent of hope! Hence we are asked for a new joint effort, an outburst of initiatives and imagination to protect woman as mother,» the cardinal appealed.

He urged health ministers, researchers and doctors, agencies, and donors to «make the greatest effort to alleviate the pain of so many sick mothers and to protect human life, to defend it from conception to its natural end. For every man, respect of life is a right and at the same time a duty, because every life is a gift of God.»

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