Wednesday, August 24, 2005

On behalf of the Gender AIDS Forum we hereby extend our solidarity to you at a time when Pope Benedict of Vatican oppose the use of condoms as dangerious and wrong to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, while many young women and men continue to die of a preventable disease, and whilst treatment access for many is unnecessarily a long way off.

We are sad to note that there are people of influence in the church who are still in denial and ignorance of making sure that we respond to the realities of the HIV and AIDS epidemics. The promotion of condom usage as a form of preventative measure for HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) is a crucial method to curb the new spread of HIV infection amongst young people.

We believe that young women and men need to know of and to claim their sexual and reproductive health and rights so as to make informed choices whether or not to engage in sexual activities that might put them at risk of getting infected with HIV. There's no doubt that most young people are sexually active and most vulnerable to HIV infection. affects young people whether they are Catholic or non-Catholic. We, in South Africa have witnessed so many young people in churches who are living with HIV positively and openly and others who are neglected and disowned by their own church members and leaders. We believe that the church has to support its members unconditionally and non judgementally as this will ensure an enabling environment to those who need spiritual care, guidence, information and support.

The shift in society, lead by the church amongst others, must be towards one that is RIGHTS BASED, enabling and facilitating the process of young women and men working for gender justice and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

We call upon and encourage young women and men globally to take responsibility to save their lives and to proactively make choices and decisions that advance their health rights. As young women and men, let us colectively and with an equal voice, advocate for access to and respect of our sexual and reproductive health and rights. Let us work in solidarity with other young women and men activists in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Yours In Solidarity.

Thembani Chamane

Advocacy Youth Programme
Gender AIDS Forum

SOUTH AFRICA

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La Red Nacional Católica de Jóvenes por el Derecho a Decidir, enviamos uncaluroso abrazo al equipo que ha puesto sus energías en la campaña WorldYouth Day for All. Es grato saber que en esta Jornada Mundial de la Juventudse escucharon las preocupaciones reales de las personas jóvenes católicas.Nos emociona saber que la iglesia que soñamos y construimos todos los días,tiene voz en ese importante foro.

En esta ocasión, desde México, nos unimos a estos esfuerzos con lasreflexiones emanadas de nuestro Encuentro Nacional, el cual buscó abonar ala lucha por una comunidad que respete y promueva la libertad de concienciay el ejercicio de los derechos sexuales de las y los jóvenes.

Nuestro más sincero reconocimiento para su trabajo, que es una inspiraciónpara seguir con optimismo y amor.

Atte:Red Nacional Católica de Jóvenes por el Derecho a Decidir

México

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Congrats on the WYD4All presence....great blog and postcards.

Harry Walsh
International AIDS Alliance


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Dear World Youth Day 4 All Coalition


I was so elated and encouraged to hear about your action in Cologne. This is a word just to wish you WELL in every way with this absolutely crucial work you are doing. Human history will be savagely marked by the failure of the Catholic Church core to understand the radical need to rethink old positions on condoms facing HIV/AIDS. If change is possible, it will be youth like you who activate the discussions and persuade about the urgent need to respond compassionately and "in good faith" to the human realities within which HIV moves. GOOD LUCK. ALL COURAGE. Millions across the world are behind you, as they read newspapers, understand the realities you are trying to work with.


I have worked in HIV prevention (my focus is on gender issues blocking prevention) since... 1986, focused towards helping youth capacity build, with deep commitment and in many projects and countries. It is daunting work and all the odds of poverty and lack of information and blocked attitudes and beliefs are huge. But I am hugely encouraged and inspired by hearing of the passion and commitment of groups like you.

Let me know basic info about your coalition... I may want to contact you about some ideas I am brewing.

With all best and warmest wishes. GOOD LUCK with all your efforts. Keep your courage high.

Jill Lewis
Living for Tomorrow
HIV/AIDS prevention with a central focus on gender