Interview with Andrij Waskowycz, President of Caritas Ukraine at the 18th General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis. By Annalisa Mazzella, Advocacy and Communication Officer of Caritas Europa
Vatican City, 6 June 2007 – Having been recognised for barely 25 years, HIV has become one of the most formidable infectious agents confronting modern medicine. It is now the fourth greatest cause of death worldwide and, in Africa, the primary cause of death among adults. During recent years, Caritas Internationalis has intensified activities in this area, promoting a compassionate response that includes care, support, education, and anti-retroviral treatment.
Following the line of Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Europa has recently organised the Conference “Stigma or Solidarity? New Challenges for the Church Response to HIV/AIDS”. This took place on 24-26 April 2007 in Kiev (Ukraine), organised in collaboration with Caritas Ukraine and co-sponsored by several organisations. Andrij Waskowycz, President of Caritas Ukraine, is among the more than 300 Caritas delegates to the General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis taking place this week in St Peter’s. We asked him about HIV/AIDS in Europe.
Andrij, could you describe the importance of the HIV/AIDS phenomenon in Europe?
While Sub-Saharan Africa continues to shoulder the greatest burden of HIV, alarming numbers have already been observed in Europe, especially in the Central and Eastern part. In Ukraine , annual HIV diagnoses have almost doubled since 2000. The number of people estimated be living with the virus in 2005 was calculated at 410,000. Unfortunately, physicians are not yet trained in the necessary therapies. Also, the country is unprepared in terms of social implications and funding for relevant programmes.
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