CARE FOR HIV/AIDS SUFFERERS, SHARED BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
VATICAN CITY, 10 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, yesterday addressed the fifty-third session of the Economic and Social Council's Commission on the Status of Women, which was meeting to consider the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.
Care for HIV/AIDS sufferers must "be shared between all women and men, in households as well as in the public sector", he said. "In particular, it is more and more untenable that there continue to be attitudes and places - even in healthcare - where women are discriminated against and their contribution to society is undervalued simply because they are women. Recourse to social and cultural pressure in order to maintain the inequality of the sexes is unacceptable".
Continuing his English-language remarks, the nuncio indicated how "HIV/AIDS calls into question the values by which we live our lives and how we treat, or fail to treat, one another".
"Home-based care is the preferred means of care in many social and cultural settings, and is often more sustainable and successful over the long term when based within communities. In fact, when many members of a community are involved in care and support, there is less likely to be stigma associated with the disease", he said.
"Unfortunately, community- and home-based care is largely unrecognised, and many caregivers face precarious financial situations. Very little of the funds spent every year on providing assistance to those who are suffering as well as on much needed research to combat the disease go to supporting them.
"Studies have shown that community- and home-based caregivers actually experience more stress than medical personnel", he added, "so better support must be provided for these persons, particularly women and older persons".
"Governments should properly recognise that the budget and organisation of public institutions are somewhat relieved by family-based caregiving and should thus adopt migration laws aimed at creating social integration and full protection of immigrant caregivers, and fostering social integration".
"Care in itself", he concluded, "must become a topic of public debate and take on an importance capable of shaping political life and giving men and women the ability to be more concerned for the needs of others, more empathetic and able to focus on others".