Church’s point man on AIDS to visit PHL

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MANILA, August 14, 2012— The Vatican’s point man on AIDs will be in Manila next week to promote a better understanding on the disease, which has seen an alarming spike in recent year.

The Archdiocese of Manila said two separate workshops would be held, one for priests and religious and another for seminarians and laypeople.

The first workshop will be held on August 22-23 at the San Carlos Seminary auditorium in Makati City; the other on August 24 at the Layforce chapel in the same compound.

Msgr. Robert Vitillo, special adviser on HIV & AIDS for Caritas Internationalis and head of the International Delegation to the UN in Geneva, will conduct both workshops.

Caritas Internationalis and the Catholic Medical Mission Board organized Msgr. Vitillo’s workshop upon the request of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle has called on the priests, religious, seminarians and lay people to know more about HIV/AIDS.

In two separate circulars, Tagle said that there is a need to learn more about the disease so that the local church can come up with an effective and appropriate pastoral response to the “silent epidemic.”

In a Pastoral Letter on AIDS issued in 2011, the CBCP emphasized that “Church workers, seminarians and the clergy must be equipped with basic knowledge about HIV & AIDS and complementary pastoral counseling skills in order to bring hope, healing and reconciliation to those vulnerable to the virus, those infected and affected by HIV, through the sacraments and pastoral care”.

He also noted that nine new cases of HIV infections are reported daily, of which 52 per cent is in the National Capital Region.

The archbishop added that while the global trend is decreasing, the number of HIV cases is rising in the Philippines, as doubling time continues to shorten.

“Of the 9,669 reported cases from 1984 to May 2012, 5,245 cases (or 54 per cent of total cases) were recorded between 2010 and 2012. What is alarming is that the 20-29 year old age group has had the most number of cases,” he said.

The church official called for attendance to the workshop of the groups concerned to “help the Archdiocese mainstream HIV in all existing ministries and protect families, especially our young people, from the virus which until now has no cure.” [CBCPNews]


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