The rising incidence of HIV/Aids in the Philippines has prompted the Archbishop of Manila to call for greater awareness among Catholic clergy, religious and lay people.
While new cases of HIV/Aids are decreasing globally, Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle said they are increasing in the Philippines, with an average of nine reported each day.
“What is alarming is that the 20 to 29 year-old age group has had the most number of cases,” he said.
A pastoral letter issued last year by the Catholic bishops’ conference said Church workers, seminarians and the clergy must be equipped with basic knowledge of Aids “to bring hope, healing and reconciliation to those vulnerable”.
The archdiocese of Manila has organised two workshop sessions on HIV/Aids, a two-day session for priests and religious, and a one-day session for seminarians and lay people.
They will be conducted by Monsignor Robert Vitillo, the special adviser on HIV and Aids for Caritas Internationalis.
During an international conference on Aids in Washington, DC, in July, Monsignor Vitillo said the alarming spread of HIV in the Philippines must be addressed with an approach that puts human dignity and responsibility first.
He said critics portrayed the Church’s ethical teachings as a set of “conservative” taboos, but they offered the only authentic solution to the epidemic in a country where infection rates have dramatically risen.
“The teaching of the Catholic Church with regard to sexual activity is relevant and valid for all persons,” he said. “This teaching should be received and understood in the context of responsible personal relationships and not simply as a public health instruction for one or other population group.
“I have no doubt about the wisdom of Catholic Church teaching in this regard,” he stressed, noting that these principles “have been confirmed by public health evidence” in several countries.
Image: UN News Centre
News category: World.