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Vatican Message for World Day Against AIDS

11/30/2005 - 6:00 AM PST

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"Certain Suggestions at the Level of Guidelines for Action"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is the Vatican Message for the World Day Against AIDS, which will be observed on Thursday. It was written by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.

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Message for the World Day Against AIDS

December 1, 2005

To Bishops' Conferences, to national and international institutions and organizations, to NGOs and associations involved in prevention and assistance, to men and women of good will.

1. The World Day against AIDS of this year, organized by UNAIDS, with the slogan "Stop AIDS. Keep the promise," seeks to call everyone, and in particular those who occupy positions of responsibility in the field of HIV/AIDS, to a renewed and conscious commitment to the lasting prevention of the spread of this pandemic and to care for those afflicted by it, especially in poor countries, in order to stem and invert the trend towards the growing spread of infection by HIV/AIDS.

2. The Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care joins with other national and international organizations, and in particular UNAIDS, which every year organizes a world campaign of combating AIDS, so that this planetary evil, which has brought about a global crisis, can be met with an action that is equally global and united. The adherence in 2001 of Heads of State and representatives of governments to the Declaration of commitment to the struggle against HIV/AIDS was an important moment of affirming awareness and political commitment at a world level in favor of a strong, global and decisive reaction and response by the international community.

3. The epidemiological situation of HIV/AIDS continues to rouse great concern. It is estimated that in 2005 the number of people living with AIDS was 40.3 million, of whom 2.3 million were minors under the age of fifteen. Year by year the number of people infected by this disease continues to grow. In 2005, 4.9 million people contracted the HIV virus, of whom 700,000 were minors under the age of fifteen, and in 2005 3.1 million people died of AIDS, of whom 570,000 were young people under the age of fifteen. HIV/AIDS continues to sow death in all the countries of the world.

4. The best cure is prevention to avoid infection by HIV/AIDS, which we should remember is transmitted through the triple route of blood, transmission from mother to child, and sexual contact. As regards transfusions and other forms of contact with the blood of an infected person, today such infection has been notably reduced. Despite this fact, the very greatest attention should be paid to avoid this pathway of infection, especially in centers that deal with transfusions and during surgical operations.

We may thank the Lord that contagion from mother to child is strongly controlled by suitable drugs. Prevention in this field must be intensified through the provision of suitable medication to seropositive mothers, especially by public bodies in the various countries of the world.

The third pathway of infection -- sexual transmission -- still remains the most important. This is greatly fostered by a kind of pansexual culture that devalues sexuality, reducing it to mere pleasure without any further meaning. Radical prevention in this field must come from a correct conception and practice of sexuality, where sexual activity is understood in its deep meaning as a total and absolute expression of the fecund giving of love. This totality leads us to the exclusiveness of its exercise in marriage, which is unique and indissoluble. Secure prevention in this field thus lies in the intensification of the solidity of the family.

This is the profound meaning of the Sixth Commandment, of the law of God, which constitutes the fulcrum of the authentic prevention of AIDS in the field of sexual activity.

5. Faced with the difficult social, cultural and economic situation in which many countries find themselves, there can be no doubt that a defense and promotion of health is required that is a sign of the unconditional love of everyone, in particular for the poorest and the weakest, and which meets the human needs of every individual and the community. As a result those laws that do not take into sufficient consideration the equal distribution of conditions of health for everyone must be reformed. Health is a good in itself and we can say that "there weighs upon it a social mortgage." Thus health must be assured to all the inhabitants of the earth and studies must be engaged in so that resources are used to achieve health for everyone by ensuring the basic care and treatment that are still denied to the majority of the population of the world. The right to the defense of health must, however, be matched by the duty to implement forms of behavior and to ...

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