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Caritas says sorry to AIDS and HIV victims

The international division of the Catholic aid and development organisation Caritas has offered a profound and unprecedented apology for the way it has dealt with AIDS and HIV victims in the past.

Caritas Internationalis, which includes more than 100 Catholic agencies including Caritas Australia, said it acknowledges with deep regret that its members have not always acted promptly or positively to respond to the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS.

The statement, drawn up by the British affiliate organisation CAFOD and released to mark Sunday's World Aids Day, goes on to admit that its members "have sometimes kept silent in the face of stigma or discrimination based on known or suspected HIV status".

It says Caritas members "have often rejected when we should have embraced, isolated when we should have included, judged and condemned when we should have offered love, understanding, acceptance and support."

The statement then pledges a new commitment to promote in their work "the equal dignity and respect for human rights due to everyone within our area of influence, regardless of their own or a family member's HIV status."

The statement comes as World Aids Day was helping to launch the 2002-2003 World AIDS campaign, which has adopted the slogan 'Live and Let Live' and a focus on eliminating the discrimination associated with the disease.

The Caritas statement, which represents a comprehensive review of the situation, details and recognises the scale of the AIDS problem and acknowledges that the attached stigma exacerbates the matter.

The Universe

Caritas Internationalis | CI Statement for the UNAIDS Campaign 2002-2002

3 Dec 2002