.- The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care reported that the Catholic Church is currently running 117,000 centers to care for AIDS patients throughout the world.
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski told L’Osservatore Romano that in the past 30 years, more than 60 million people have contracted HIV, mostly in Africa. He spoke to the Vatican paper on the eve of a congress on the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS.
The conference is taking place May 27-28. It was organized by the Good Samaritan Foundation, instituted by Blessed John Paul II in 2004 and entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Health Care.
He underscored the testimony of “numerous health care workers and volunteers who, in their courageous care for the sick … have themselves contracted the infection.”
He also highlighted the work by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and the late Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor of New York, “who promoted numerous heath care centers for AIDS victims” and “many treatment and assistance programs in the United States and in other poor countries.”
The congress is intended to respond to the questions of “many bishops who contact our dicastery in order to receive constant help, with material assistance but above all with information on the latest advances in science in the fight against this disease,” Archbishop Zimowski said.
The objectives of the congress include the improvement of pastoral and health care for AIDS victims and the encouragement of the developed world to show solidarity with poor countries, “as too many people die without access to the treatment they need, especially antiretrovirals” currently available only in developed countries.
In 2008, then-president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, reported that 27 percent of institutions around the world caringfor AIDS patients are Catholic; 44 percent are governmental; 11 percent are operated by NGOs; and 8 percent are run by other religious confessions.