PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR HEALTH PASTORAL CARE
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
ADDRESS OF CARD. JAVIER LOZANO BARRAGÁN
I have the honour of extending His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's greetings to all who are engaged in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The Pope is deeply concerned about the spread of the illness and guarantees both the continuity and the increase of the work that the Catholic Church does to stop this scourge.
Since the beginning, the Catholic Church has offered its contribution on the medical, social and spiritual levels in the fight against the HIV virus and those suffering from AIDS. In fact, 26.7 percent of the centres that treat people infected with HIV and affected by AIDS in the world are Catholic-based.
Our work focuses on the training of health-care professionals as well as prevention, treatment, care and assistance. We accompany the sick and their respective families at every stage.
Specifically, Caritas Internationalis is engaged in this important work in 102 countries.
Besides the local personnel (both Religious and lay), there are several international congregations and associations working in this sector: the Vincentians, Caritas Internationalis, Sant'Egidio, Camillians, Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God (Fatebenefratelli), Jesuits, Sisters of Mother Teresa, Bambino Gesù Hospital of the Holy See and Catholic pharmacists, to mention but a few.
Our major programmes for training are addressed to health-care professionals, priests, Religious, youth, families as well as the sick themselves.
In prevention, we insist on formation and education towards proper behaviour in order to avoid the pandemic. We find that in the field of education and formation, the contributions of the family prove to be extremely helpful and effective. We do this through publications, lectures and the exchange of experiences and skills.
As for health care and assistance to the sick, we, among others, stress the formation of doctors and related medical personnel, of chaplains and volunteers. We fight the stigma, facilitate testing, counselling and reconciliation. We provide anti-retrovirals and drugs to stop the vertical transmission (mother to child), and also promote measures to stop the blood contagion.
In the area of caring for and accompanying the sick, we stress avoiding contagion and taking care of orphans, widows and persons with AIDS who are in prison. We are helping with the social reintegration of HIV-positive people, and collaborate with governments and other institutions both on the civil and ecumenical levels that are dealing with the pandemic.
Regarding the economic aspects, the late Pope John Paul II established the Good Samaritan Foundation to support the neediest sick people, especially those afflicted with AIDS.
To date, we have facilitated the purchasing of antiretrovirals for centres in 18 countries: 13 in Africa, 3 in America and 2 in Asia. The funds given to these centres came from contributions by Catholics in 19 countries, from America, Asia, Europe as well as Africa itself.
For further information on our work and commitment, we are providing a brief publication to this Assembly, which can be found in the places reserved for this purpose in this hall.
Thank you, Mr President.