Jesuit relief agency calls for renewed AIDS effort in Africa

By Rita Fitch Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The battle against AIDS in Africa is far from over, but a current funding shortfall threatens all of the progress there so far, said the African Jesuit AIDS Network, an AIDS relief group in sub-Saharan Africa.

World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, will be marked this year by a grim reality: “that of waning international engagement in the struggle against the pandemic, reflected in serious funding shortages for lifesaving antiretroviral therapy,” the network’s statement said.

The Jesuit-sponsored organization said it “has long felt that AIDS is simply not being perceived as an emergency anymore,” even though 1.9 million people were newly infected in 2008 and 1.4 million people died of AIDS-related complications.

The Dec. 1 commemoration is a time to reflect on the reality of the AIDS pandemic and to address the “AIDS fatigue” that is in part causing the shortfall, the Jesuit organization said.

In sub-Saharan Africa, a loss of political will and funding means severe shortages of life-saving antiretroviral therapy, without which AIDS may become once again a death sentence, said the Jesuit network.

“We know full well that they need far more than just medicine to survive, but we also know that without these medicines, few of them will survive,” the Jesuits said.

The African Jesuit AIDS Network said it is committed to a holistic approach to AIDS prevention and care, including spiritual and psychosocial work, but it emphasized the immediate need for medical care.

“At a time when the struggle against AIDS and the very lives of people with HIV and AIDS are threatened by dangerously diminishing international interest, the Society of Jesus in sub-Saharan African reiterates its commitment to stand by people in need,” the network said.


11/24/2010 10:27 AM ET

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