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Religious Leaders Vow To Fight HIV/AIDS Stigma, Discrimination

A two-day gathering in The Hague of religious leaders to discuss the role people of faith can play in the fight against HIV/AIDS concluded Tuesday with a pledge to prevent discrimination against those living with the disease, the Associated Press reports.

AP Reports On ‘Significant’ Clarification Of Pope’s Comments On Condoms To Prevent HIV

The Associated Press/Washington Post reports that after questions arose about Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on the use of condoms to prevent HIV, which one translation “implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren’t being used as a form of contraception,” Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi “told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended his comments to only apply to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, that the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.”

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).

In Philippines, Church Entitled To Opinion On Birth Control, But Women Have Right To Choose

“Finally, after 14 years of debate and delay, lawmakers [in the Philippines] passed a bill that will provide free or subsidized birth control to poor people as well as require sex education in schools and mandate training in family planning for community health workers,” a Los Angeles Times editorial states. “For too long in the Philippine Congress, the priorities of the Roman Catholic Church took precedence over what most Filipinos wanted — and needed,” the editorial states. “The Philippines has one of the fastest-growing populations in Asia, and is also one of the most densely populated countries,” the editorial notes, adding, “It cannot produce enough food to feed its 96 million people.”

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…

Also In Global Health News: Active TB Genetic Marker Found; African Bishops Fight HIV; Polio Eradication; PEPFAR In Dominican Republic

Active TB “Genetic Signature” Found Researchers have identified a “genetic signature” in the blood of active tuberculosis patients in the U.K. and South Africa that could one day lead to a test to predict who among latent carriers might develop the disease, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Reuters reports…