Faith-based AIDS workers defend efforts at White House meeting
Published: July 25, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic and other faith-based workers defended their efforts against the worldwide AIDS pandemic in a meeting at the White House after a United Nations official cautioned that any restrictions in services based on religious belief could result in reduced support from funders. The workers said during the July 24 meeting that their work is guided by religious principles that cannot be ignored and also involves addressing the social needs of individuals battling the disease. Their response came after Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, deputy executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, told more than 100 participants that AIDS-related organizations face "crippling financial challenges" because funders will look elsewhere if it is perceived that the full realm of treatment is not being offered to people with HIV or AIDS. "If (funders) perceive that dogma holds back our work, they'll find other places to put their funds," Albrectsen told the workers, most of who were in Washington for the XIX International AIDS Conference, which is set to conclude July 27. "Some faith-based organizations' spokespeople have appeared to deny the clear evidence of good research and even basic science in regards to HIV and AIDS. "A restrictive approach to condom promotion and distribution, a reluctance to work with men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients or drug users is unlikely to evoke sympathy among precisely those who choose to spend their meager resources on the fight against HIV and AIDS," Albrectsen said to the gathering of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu participants.
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