Bishop Calls for End to AIDS stigma

MANILA, Dec. 5, 2011— A Catholic bishop has lashed out those who continue to stigmatize AIDS, as he called for an intensive information campaign to prevent the spread of the disease.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the country needs to solve the AIDS stigma which continue to grip the country and for other people to be able to take care of the victims.

“Many of those who discriminate (AIDS victims) are afraid they might get it of casual contact… it’s not like that,” said Pabillo, chairman of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“We have to help those who are in need. We don’t prejudge them even if it’s their fault or not. There’s always a time for change. Let’s always give people a chance to come back again,” he said.

AIDS stigma, he cited, includes ostracism, rejection, discrimination and avoidance of HIV infected people.

Among the worst cases, he added, is violence against HIV infected individuals which prevent them from seeking HIV testing or securing perpetuating the spread of HIV.

Pabillo made the statement yesterday during the launching of the National AIDS Sunday celebration at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila.

During the celebration, around 2,000 students from various colleges and universities also formed a giant human AIDS ribbon.
According to him, the gathering is not just to stop the spread of the virus, but also to eliminate the stigma associated with the disease and be in solidarity with persons living with HIV and AIDS.

The bishop reiterated that the effective way to battle the spread of the dreaded disease is not condom use but “chastity and fidelity to one’s partner.”

“The best solution is chastity and fidelity. There is a need to educate people about chastity to avoid irresponsible sexual behaviors and at the same time fidelity to one’s spouse or family,” said Pabillo.

“That’s why our call here today is ‘stay true and be true’. Stay true to your spouse, family, stay true to the teachings of the church especially about the sacredness of sex,” he added.

The bishop-advisor of the Philippine Catholic HIV and AIDS Network (PhilCHAN) was referring to the theme of this year’s celebration, “Getting to Zero: Be true. Stay true.”

Pabillo said the report that the Philippines is one of the countries with steadily increasing number of HIV-AIDS further stressed the need for a more intensive information drive against the disease.

“It means many are not listening, but that should not stop us from our campaign. We remain to what is the proper teaching. It’s another calling to us to intensify more this campaign of chastity, fidelity,” he said.

“Most of those afflicted with this disease got it from wrong sexual behavior and drug use that’s why this is a call to the people to change their ways to avoid this sickness which up to now has no cure,” added Pabillo. [Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews]
Pictures came from 100% Katolikong Pinoy