Catholic agency in World AIDS Day appeal

In an appeal for World AIDS Day today, Caritas Australia is calling for assistance to provide anti-retroviral drugs for people in developing countries while a Catholic AIDS activist is calling on the Church to do more to assist Australian sufferers.

For AIDS sufferers in the developing world, Food + Drugs + Work = Life, Caritas Australia says in a statement highlighting the harsh reality facing people impacted by HIV.

While anti-retroviral drugs can keep people alive, their success depends upon adequate nutrition, the statement said.

But if people are to support themselves in a dignified way, training and education is also needed, Caritas says.

"Our approach to HIV/AIDS, like all our development work is rooted in a whole-of-life approach," Caritas spokesperson Tim O'Connor said in the statement.

To commemorate World AIDS Day today Caritas is supporting community based education initiatives countries such as Papua New Guinea and Zambia, in addition to educating the Australian public about its work, Mr O'Connor added.

"The aim of these activities is to decrease the stigma attached to HIV and to educate people about the impacts the epidemic is having - and what can be done to support those who are affected."

The statement says Caritas and its partner organisations overseas are marking World AIDS Day in a number of different ways.

The statement says that in Mendi in the Southern Highlands of PNG locals with HIV and through the support of Caritas Australia will be conducting a walk to the centre of town to challenge discrimination.

In Cambodia's Battambung Province, a Caritas Australia partner organisation is holding a parade with a focus in including children in educational activities such as quizzes, talks and games.

While in Eastern Zambia people are flooding to Mhpunza, traditional cultural practices such as singing, dancing and drumming are being used to highlight the impacts of HIV.

Gold coin appeal for Australian AIDS sufferers

Meanwhile, Brian Haill, the head of the Australian AIDS Fund, has said that the Church is not doing enough about AIDS and has called for an annual World AIDS Day gold coin collection to be taken up in the churches as a tangible gesture to help people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world.

In an open letter appeal to Australia's Catholic Bishops through Online Catholics, Melbourne-based charity Australian AIDS Fund, is renewing its call for them to organise an annual World AIDS Day gold coin collection to be taken up in the churches as a tangible gesture to help people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world.

Brian Haill, the founder of the charity which was an agency member of Catholic Social Services Victoria, first unsuccessfully appealed to the bishops six years ago, Online Catholics says.

"It was about that time that my local parish priest subsequently announced that he'd be expecting his parishioners to contribute to a gold coin collection, not once a year but every month to help fund the construction of a new church hall. It's still being taken up," Mr Haill said.

"With 25 million already killed by AIDS, over 40 million presently living with HIV/AIDS, and with more than three million killed by it each year and some five million infected annually, what else is needed to melt the bishops' hearts?" Mr Haill asked.

World AIDS Day 2006: Living life with dignity (Caritas Australia, Media Release, 28/11/06)
Is one gold coin too much to ask? (Online Catholics, 29/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia
World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day Australia

Catholic Mission announces AIDS Day appeal (CathNews, 15/11/06)

1 Dec 2006