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Keeping Orphans In Communities 'Won't End AIDS' But 'Will Help AIDS Orphans'

“The International AIDS Conference [AIDS 2012] was full of talk of hope and best practices, but no one was giving details on how to reach an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” GlobalPost correspondent John Donnelly writes in this post in the “Global Pulse” blog. “Still, this conference, like many before it, had several key moments when it was clear that the world of AIDS had changed,” he adds, and highlights a summit of faith groups organized by Rick and Kay Warren of Saddleback Church and held on the sidelines of the conference. “Saddleback’s work in Africa follows what it calls the PEACE Plan, which stands for planting churches that promote reconciliation; equipping servant leaders; assisting the poor; caring for the sick; and educating the next generation,” he notes.

Washington Post Examines Circumcision As HIV Prevention Strategy

“Although circumcision’s effect on protection against HIV is clear — three studies have shown a 60 percent reduction in risk to men — as a public health strategy, it is fraught with caveats,” the Washington Post reports. Though uncertainty exists about the degree of protection the procedure provides, especially for specific groups such as men who have sex with men, and “[m]any ethnic groups have strong cultural traditions against the procedure,” “many AIDS researchers and advocates view it as a strategy that needs far more promotion since it provides some protection to men having sex with infected women,” according to the newspaper. The article includes a summary of data and studies on circumcision (Brown, 7/25).

OPINION: Recognizing The Role Of Christians In Global Effort To Eradicate AIDS

In this Washington Post opinion piece, Richard Stearns, president of World Vision U.S., examines the role that Christians have played in the global effort to eradicate AIDS, noting the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) is being held in Washington, D.C., this week. “Two decades ago, no one would have predicted that Christians would so quickly change their response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic from criticism to compassion,” he writes, and provides a history of the Christian response. He concludes, “As thousands gather for the International AIDS Conference this week, with the end of AIDS in sight, let’s focus on our role and responsibility as Christians in continuing this important work until we truly achieve an AIDS-free generation” (7/25).

OPINION: Reflecting On PEPFAR's Role In The Global AIDS Response

In this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Eric Bond, managing editor of Bread for the World — a Christian anti-hunger organization — examines the role of PEPFAR in the global AIDS response, writing, “Progress against HIV/AIDS has been a remarkable achievement in which diverse communities worked together to apply political pressure, find funding, conduct research, and share tactics,” and “U.S. foreign assistance programs like [PEPFAR have] provided support to tens of millions of people through prevention, treatment, and care.” He continues, “As the International AIDS Conference continues this week in our nation’s capital, it is worth reflecting on the part that Bread for the World members have played in fighting AIDS through their support of U.S. foreign assistance programs like PEPFAR,” and “it provides a reminder of the importance of keeping such assistance in the federal budget” (7/25).

Uruguay's Congress Approves Bill To Legalize Abortion During First Trimester

“Uruguay’s Congress voted narrowly on Wednesday to legalize abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a rare move in largely Catholic Latin America that underscores the country’s liberal leanings,” Reuters reports. “President Jose Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla fighter, has said he would sign the bill into law,” the news service notes (Castaldi, 10/17). “[T]he bill approved by Uruguay’s Senate came after a pointed debate among legislators, producing a compromise that disappointed both abortion-rights groups and opponents, who have vowed to carry out a referendum to overturn the legislation,” the New York Times writes, adding, “Legislators carefully worded the bill, describing it not as legalization of abortion but as a decriminalization measure.” The newspaper writes, “The bill effectively legalizes abortion in the first trimester, permits abortion through 14 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape and allows later-term abortions when a woman’s health is at risk” (Romero et al., 10/17).

Reuters Examines Debate Over Proposed Reproductive Health Bill In The Philippines

Reuters examines how Philippine President Benigno Aquino is supporting “a reproductive health bill that will, if passed by the two houses of Congress, guarantee access to free birth control and promote sex education,” despite the “country’s powerful Catholic church.” According to the news service, “The predominately Catholic country has one of Asia’s fastest-growing populations together with significant levels of chronic poverty,” which has stunted economic growth. “Economists say high population growth is a primary factor for that, but the church … says population growth is not a cause of poverty and that people need jobs, not contraception,” Reuters writes. “But despite the arguments of the church and political opponents who decry using state funds to finance contraception, a poll last year showed about 70 percent of people support the bill,” according to the news service, which notes, “Its backers want it passed during the term of this congress, which ends in June” (Lema, 10/2).

Also In Global Health News: WHO Flu Response; Sanitation In Mozambique; Interfaith HIV/AIDS Summit; HIV/AIDS In Uganda; South African Hospital Renovations; HIV Vaccine Development

Chan Defends WHO’s Response To H1N1 On Tuesday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan defended her agency’s response to the H1N1 flu pandemic saying, “I personally do not believe that WHO exaggerated the threat,” and that “[a] new disease is, by definition, poorly understood as it emerges,” Reuters reports. Chan continued, “Had…

Discrimination Against LGBT Population Undermining HIV Prevention Efforts In Guatemala, IPS Reports

Inter Press Service examines discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Guatemala, where advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) say such discrimination is undermining HIV prevention and treatment. Carolos Valdez of the NGO Proyecto Unidos “said the country has taken ‘few steps’ for preventing the spread of HIV among vulnerable groups,” including “opening five clinics catering to members of sexual minorities,” IPS writes.

Philippines Government Must Support Reproductive Health Law

“Women in the Philippines have lacked autonomy over their bodies for decades. The overwhelming political power of the country’s Catholic church leaders — and the government’s acquiescence to many of their demands — has resulted in reproductive health care restrictions so severe they amount to human rights violations,” Melissa Upreti,…

U.N. Food Agencies Welcome Pope Francis’s Commitment To Helping Poor, Hungry

“United Nations officials [on Tuesday] welcomed Pope Francis’ public commitment to support those who live in poverty and suffer from hunger, and expressed their readiness to work with the new leader of the Catholic Church on these issues,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/19). “Striking a tone of radical humility that…