Caritas International’s special advisor for the fight against AIDS, Msgr. Robert Vitillo, said this week that one of the main ways of combating the disease is to teach values to young people. He added that though it doesn't cost anything to do this, it requires “much effort and is tiresome.”
Speaking to Vatican Radio from Nairobi, Msgr. Vitillo recalled that the Church is always close to those who are suffering most. “This pandemic continues and according to U.N. statistics, more than two million people were infected in 2008. This means that we must re-dedicate ourselves to the prevention of this disease.”
He noted that teaching young people is not easy, “as it is difficult to successfully make them discover values and their own dignity. But it is necessary to establish healthy connections among them.”
Msgr. Vitillo also pointed out that in poor countries, 60 percent of the population does not have access to medicine. He remarked that this is a major issue because only 20 percent of HIV-positive children receive treatment because “the drugs are not specifically for pediatric use.”
Vitillo said pharmaceutical companies and governments must invest in developing drugs that are especially adapted for children.
According to recent data, as of 2009 some 33.4 million people are living with HIV, while 2.7 million became infected in 2008, and another 2 million died that year as a result of complications from the disease. Estimates are that in 2008, 430,000 children were born HIV-positive, with 2.1 million infected children under the age of 15.