Tuesday, November 21, 2006

China HIV Cases Up by 30%

China HIV Cases Up Nearly 30 Percent
BEIJING (Reuters) - The number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in China has grown by nearly 30 per cent this year, state media said on Wednesday, warning the virus seemed to be spreading from high-risk groups to the general public. [..]

[..] As of October 31, 12,464 people have died in China as a result of illnesses associated with the HIV virus, Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Disease Control Bureau, said yesterday.

Hao added that virus appeared to be spreading from so-called high-risk groups to the general public.

Drug abuse accounted for 37 per cent of the cases reported in the first 10 months of the year, while unsafe sexual contact had caused 28 per cent, Hao noted, adding that these two activities had caused most of the infections. Before 2002, only 10 per cent of all infections were caused by sexual contact. [Reuters/Alertnet]

Archbishop Desmond Tutu's comments about the HIV/AIDS epidemic:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been asked about comments made by other religious figures that AIDS is "God's punishment" for sexual promiscuity or drug use. His response? An angry rebuttal: "If that were the kind of God we were told to worship, I would reject that God. My God is not a God who is so sadistic; why punish an innocent child?"
AIDS, he said is the new apartheid, the new enemy. "Let's stop playing around and roll up our sleeves and invoke the spirit that fought apartheid," he said. "We did it with apartheid, we can repeat it with AIDS."

In India, spiritual leaders, including Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Bishop Lawrence Pius Dorai Raj, have recently come together to fight HIV/AIDS, stressing the need for preventive care for a disease that has hit five million Indians. They discussed HIV/AIDS care, giving the much-needed prophetic voice to the stigma and discrimination related to the disease. Faith-based bodies have "historically provided a vital network for community based work". The voluntary Health, Education and Rural Development Society in India [known as "Vherds"] stresses that these groups should play the key role in "compassionate care" for HIV/AIDS infected.

A Prayer For AIDS Awareness

Weary from anger, fear and confusion
Wailing at the loss of audacious beauty -
The souls stricken with AIDS
I search.

In my risings, I search for the answers
Buried deep in the cold earth.
Why has become as useless
As battling the winds.

Hope scurries under my feet
She is present, but fleeting.
I trace her with my eyes
I do not want to lose sight.

I lay down
And beseech You
Spread over me Your canopy of peace
So I may rest and find wholeness in Your shards

I lay down
And look above
Where the memories have formed
A canopy embroidered as finely as the stars
I am renewed and will continue to ask You
Spread over us Your canopy of peace.

A prayer by Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Atlanta, Ga.