Why Stigma and Discrimination Associated with HIV and AIDS Pose a Challenge Ending AIDS as a Public Health Threat? How has the Church Made Progress in this Regard? 27/11/2015


Dear Sisters and Brothers, 

I greet you in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of  the  Holy Spirit!  For  me  it  is  a  great  honour  to  join you  for  this  Tenth  Forum  of  the Fundación  Eudes,  which  is  organized  in  partnership  with  the  Coproación  Universitaira Minuto  de  Dios  (UNIMINUTO),  the  Pontificia  Universidad  Javeriana  de  Colombia  and  the Gobernación  de  Cundinamarca.  I  am  very  grateful  to  Fathers  Bernardo  Vergara  and  René Rey for their kind invitation to share the joy that you rightfully feel as a result of your loving, compassionate,  and  non-judgemental  service  significant  numbers,  some  25,000, of  the  most vulnerable and needy persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS  here in Bogota and in four other cities of Colombia. In fact, more than twenty years ago, here in Bogota, I visited one of the houses of welcome opened by Fr. Bernardo and often have told others, during my visits Latin America and many other parts of the world, about the love and acceptance that I witnessed  there.  I  also  share,  however,  the  sense  of challenge,  even  of  frustration, that despite  our  progress  in  the  bio-medical  response  to  the  HIV  epidemics,  we  still  face  major challenges to resolve the issues of stigma and discrimination to those living with and affected by  HIV and  AIDS, both  within  the  Church  and  within  all  of  society. Finally, I beg your patience and pardon since I do not speak Spanish well; I learned this language while serving the needs of Cuban refugees  in  the  United  States  but  never formally studied Spanish in school.  

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