.- To mark World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers appealed for universal access to life-saving treatment for all AIDS victims and urged others to show solidarity with them.
âAlthough the international community began to work against this infection over twenty years ago, unfortunately it is estimated that 1,800,000 people still die every year because of HIV. These are people who could lead normal lives if they only had access to suitable pharmacological therapies, those known as antiretroviral therapies,â the councilâs president Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski said Dec. 1.
The development of suitable treatments means that AIDS patientsâ deaths, and the sufferings this causes their families, are âno longer justifiable.â
The archbishop said the annual observance is also a time to promote prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child and to educate others in a âtruly correct and responsibleâ approach to sexuality.
The day is also an occasion to âre-launch the fight against social prejudice and to reaffirm the need for moral, spiritual and â as far as this is possible â material proximity to those who have contracted the infection and to their family relatives.â
Archbishop Zimowski also emphasized the âfundamental importanceâ of educating everyone, especially the younger generations, in a sexuality based upon natural law and âilluminated by the Word of God.â
âThe Church and her Magisterium ask for a lifestyle that privileges abstinence, conjugal faithfulness and the rejection of sexual promiscuity,â he explained, emphasizing that this is a part of âintegral developmentâ to which people and communities have a right.
The archbishop thanked those who have worked to help AIDS victims and praised their âwonderful and important work.â
Fr. Bob Vitillo, the Caritas Internationalis special advisor on HIV/AIDS, told Vatican Radio the World AIDS Day goal of âGetting to Zeroâ new patients is much more attainable than it was in past decades.
âItâs more a possibility now, and we need to articulate that and work towards it,â he said.
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged Dec. 1 to increase access to life-saving drugs for AIDS victims in the U.S. and around the world. He said the U.S. will help six million people in countries hardest hit by the virus access antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2013, an increase from the original U.S. goal of two million. He also announced plans to boost spending on HIV treatment in the U.S. by $50 million.
World AIDS Day has been observed since 1988. Over 30 million people have died of the syndrome. More than 33 million people presently live with the HIV virus.