Friday, January 28, 2011

Filipino bishops to be proactive against HIV

Steve Kraus, director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific, gives bishops an update of the HIV/AIDS situation in the Philippines

By Sean Salvador, Manila

Filipino Catholic bishops wore red ribbon lapel pins on Thursday as they vowed to play a proactive role in the fight against HIV/AIDS and prevent discrimination against those living with the disease.

The bishops made their pledge in a meeting with Steve Kraus, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific.

They said their coordination with Kraus does not mean that the Church also encourages the use of condoms in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“The Church has done remarkable things in all parts of the world and these include the years of prevention, treatment, support and care for the people living with HIV,” Kraus said.

“Here in the Philippines, it’s crucial and logical that you work closely with the Church… this is a good sign that we will intensify our collaboration and work even close together,” he said.

Kraus said the four-hour meeting “was significant” and there was no debate on controversial issue such as condom use. “It is more about acceptance of people infected or living with HIV,” Kraus said.

By promoting community solidarity, the UNAIDS official said, the Church can prevent new HIV infections and ensure that those infected are treated with dignity and respect.

“We have to welcome people living with HIV into our homes and into our parishes so that we can better understand their world and for them to understand our world,” Kraus said.

Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said that while the Church considers condom use can be morally justified in “certain cases,” it is not the main solution to a “behavioral problem.”

“Our support is selective, which means to say we’ll help in raising awareness to the people, and address stigma and discrimination,” said Archbishop Lagdameo, former president of the Catholic bishops’ conference.

Members of the CBCP are in Manila this week for their plenary assembly that will start on Saturday.


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