As the XIX International AIDS Conference meets in Washington, DC, a recent article by Catholic News Service highlights the need to go beyond just finding a vaccine cure to truly address the problem of HIV/AIDS.
WASHINGTON (CNS) — As someone living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Joshua Mavundu would welcome a cure for the disease. He knows intimately its ravages. His weight dropped to 70 pounds before he was tested and put on antiretroviral medication by a Catholic AIDS program in Zimbabwe. Today, he feels healthy and weighs almost 175 pounds.
Mavundu was in Washington for the XIX International AIDS Conference July 22-27. He also participated in a two-day gathering of Catholic AIDS workers held beforehand. He arrived as news reports gushed about the U.S. government’s approval of a pill to help prevent HIV infection, and the claims of some scientists to be close to developing a cure for the deadly disease.
“I openly live with HIV, so I share the excitement about a possible vaccine and cure,” Mavundu told Catholic News Service. “But we need to look back at what we’ve learned about solidarity, about people coming together and being united, and we should keep that intact. Talking about vaccines is fine, but we shouldn’t forget solidarity and justice and community.”
The article goes on to quote Michelle Broemmelsiek of Catholic Relief Services.
Michele Broemmelsiek, the global director for AIDSRelief at Catholic Relief Services, said organizations like hers work best when they help community members solve their own problems.
“When you truly engage the community, that’s when you really win the fight against AIDS. If you just base your work on a medical response, train doctors, get the best laboratory equipment, fix up the pharmacy, you still haven’t won the fight against AIDS. When you can address stigma and provide support to affected people in the community, that’s when true justice happens,” she said.