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A report of a theological workshop focusing on HIV- and AIDS-related stigma, 8th-11th December 2003, Windhoek, Namibia. Supported by UNAIDS.
Geneva, Switzerland, UNAIDS, 2005 Feb. 62 p. (UNAIDS/05.01E)Stigma is difficult to define. Generally, though, it implies the branding or labelling of a person or a group of persons as being unworthy of inclusion in human community, resulting in discrimination and ostracization. The branding or labelling is usually related to some perceived physical, psychological or moral condition believed to render the individual unworthy of full inclusion in the community. We may stigmatize those we regard as impure, unclean or dangerous, those who are different from ourselves or live in different ways, or those who are simply strangers. In the process we construct damaging stereotypes and perpetuate injustice and discrimination. Stigma often involves a conscious or unconscious exercise of power over the vulnerable and marginalized. The purpose of this document is to identify those aspects of Christian theology that endorse or foster stigmatizing attitudes and behaviour towards people living with HIV and AIDS and those around them, and to suggest what resources exist within Christian theology that might enable churches to develop more positive and loving approaches. It is not a theological statement, but rather a framework for theological thinking, and an opportunity, for church leaders, to pursue a deeper Christian reflection on the current crisis. (excerpt)
Population 2005. 2002 Sep-Oct; 4(3):8.The HIV/AIDS epidemic shows no sign of leveling off in the hardest hit countries and as much as $10 billion is needed annually to fight it effectively, according to UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot. Addressing the 14th international AIDS conference in Barcelona in July, Mr. Piot said that unless the global community provided more assistance to countries with high rates of HIV/AIDS, like debt relief, there could be catastrophic results. “The epidemic hit the world 20 years ago but we failed to contain the increase in HIV cases. The answers point towards politics, power and priorities. $10 billion is needed annually to combat the menace,” he said. Mr. Piot told his audience they must mobilize political support, scale up AIDS prevention and treatment, eliminate stigma, develop a vaccine and arrange funds to fight the disease. (excerpt)
Lancet. 2005 Feb 19; 365:723-725.Ensuring environmental sustainability is essential to achieving all the Millennium Development Goals. Longterm solutions to problems of drinking-water shortages, hunger, poverty, gender inequality, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, maternal and childhood health, extreme local weather and global climate changes, and conflicts over natural resources need systematic strategies to achieve environmental sustainability. For this reason, the UN Millennium Project Task Force on Environmental Sustainability has concluded that protection of the environment is an essential prerequisite and component of human health and well-being. Economic development and good health are not at odds with environmental sustainability: they depend on it. One important dimension of environmental sustainability is the need to maintain ecosystem services critical to the human population. These services include providing food, shelter, and construction materials; regulating the quantity and quality of fresh water; limiting soil erosion and regenerating nutrients; controlling pests and alien invasive species; providing pollination; buffering human, wild plant, and animal populations from interspecific transfer and spread of diseases; and stabilising local weather conditions and sequestering greenhouse gases to contain climate change. A second and equally important dimension of environmental sustainability is the need to control water pollution and air pollution, including the emission of greenhouse gases that drive climate change. These so-called brown issues can have a severe effect on human health and ecosystem function. (excerpt)
Lancet. 2005 Mar 19; 365:1004.An impressive fanfare of melodic African gospel music heralded the long-awaited launch last week of the final report of the Commission for Africa. The 17-strong Commission, chaired by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, set out to take “a fresh look” at Africa’s past and present, and make realistic recommendations for the continent’s survival. The Commission’s report is a laudable achievement: the hefty volume is a pragmatic and decisive review of Africa’s needs. It is, as promised, unfalteringly honest— and health initiatives are not spared criticism. According to the report, the failings of current health efforts are clear: there are too many initiatives and too little coordination. The Commission’s solution focuses on harmonisation of health policy at a national level and integration of donor-led initiatives into governmental plans. As if in preparation for these recommendations, Luís Sambo, head of the WHO’s African Regional Office, last week concluded a tour of the UK and USA by announcing sweeping reforms of WHO/AFRO. He plans to decentralise activities and give more authority to country representatives “to cope with potential increases in resources”. (excerpt)