Holy See on International HIV/AIDS Policies

“Renew Our Commitment to Taking Necessary Life-Saving Action”

NEW YORK, JUNE 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, gave Thursday during the 62nd session of the UN general assembly on the progress achieved in realizing the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS

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Mr. President,

We come together to review the 2001 Declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, and, as the Secretary General’s report notes, clearly progress has been made, yet a great deal of work remains. One development of note is the improvement in containing the pandemic and opening a window of hope such that, in the near future, greater numbers of people will survive HIV infections and commitment to caring for the sick will not only persist but increase.

In light of the “Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS” adopted by the General Assembly on 15 June 2006, I would like to report on the commitment of the Holy See and its various bodies around the world to address those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

The Holy See, through the “Good Samaritan Foundation,” an organization founded for the purpose of giving immediate economic assistance to Medical Institutions, has provided approximately one half million dollars for the purchase of anti-retroviral medicine.

At the national level, the Bishops’ Conferences have developed and promoted greater awareness and programs to assist in the struggle against this pandemic, especially in developing countries and among the most marginalized populations. For example, in India alone, more than 100 centers that offer treatment, care and support to AIDS patients have been put in place. Soon, in addition to these institutions, another 45 centers will open in rural and isolated areas. The Bishops’ Conference in the United States through “Catholic Relief Services” supports approximately 250 projects in the poorest countries, a figure that in 2007 amounted to over $120 million in assistance.

At the international level, the Holy See through its various institutions is present in all continents of the world, providing education, treatment, care and support regardless of race, nationality or creed. With the assistance of ten thousand workers and volunteers, they have reached almost four million people with awareness raising and life saving education programs. Further, they provide medical and nutritional care and support to almost 350,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and anti-retroviral treatment to over 90,000 men, women and children. One third of this assistance is provided completely free of charge.

We are also acutely aware that a significant number of deaths of those infected by HIV/AIDS are a result of HIV/AIDS related infections and diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria. In this regard, we support and encourage all those who focus upon and work to reduce the number of TB infections and the devastating effects of malaria. Often these diseases go unnoticed and programs are underfunded. Greater efforts must be made to address them.

Finally, the Holy See and its various institutions continue to support greater access to affordable, reliable and life-saving HIV testing, anti-retroviral treatment, preventative mother-to-child drug regiments and diagnostic technologies such as CD4 testing devices. Along with access to basic health care and sustainable nutrition, these technological advancements can slowly close the gap between what is possible and what is necessary.

Mr. President,

We come here today to review our progress, but more importantly, we must renew our commitment to taking necessary life-saving action. The Holy See and its various organizations remain committed to address this pandemic in a caring and compassionate manner in order to encourage greater solidarity for all members of our society and to promote the inherent dignity of the human person in all areas of life.

Thank you, Mr. President

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