Monday, December 14, 2009

Catholic Awakening to the AIDS Prejudice

There are in the world today, many dioceses, religious orders, lay movements and Catholics, involved in one of the largest networks of hospices, orphanages, clinics for the care of those sick with AIDS. The Catholic Church of Korea is also very much involved in the care of HIV/AID patients. In all there are seven different places in Korea operated by the Church for rest and rehabilitation of those with the disease. The Church is working in a climate not sympathetic to the disease. There are children, young people, women , men, heterosexual and homosexual with the disease, received by sexual contact, by blood transfusions and by needles from drug use.

The editorial in the Peace Weekly mentioned ignorance and misunderstanding, causes a deep rooted prejudice in Korean society, making it impossible even for a person diagnosed as HIV (a person with the virus but not AIDS) to function in society. This means that it remains hidden and does not get the care that will prevent more cases. The facts are a person with the disease, with periodic check ups, and treatment can function in society; that is not the case today in Korea.

For ten years now the Church has with little publicity been involved in the care of AIDS patients. It started when there was a great deal of fear with anything to do with AIDS. There is still a great deal of misunderstanding about AIDS. This is the reason that the Church had difficulty publicising the work with the sick. It is estimated that there are about 6000 people infected with the disease in Korea.

The Church will now take a more active part in trying to change the climate that surrounds the word AIDS. Someone has been put in charge of the Red Ribbon Movement which will incorporate the present works of the Church and look for government help in the future. Korea has a great deal to overcome for the proper understanding of what AIDS is all about but has made big changes in its approach. The Church also will be more involved in educational programs , publicity and helping those who have the virus to function in society. The number of those committing suicide on knowledge of having the virus is extremely high and the reason is that they are treated like those with leprosy in the time of Jesus. There is a hope that the efforts of the Church will be successful.

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