The work of the Catholic Church in Africa to stem the spread of HIV and to care for people living with AIDS is designed to respect the dignity and life of each person and to show solidarity with everyone in need, said the moderator of the Jesuit superiors in Africa and Madagascar. In a statement prepared for the Dec. 1 commemoration of World AIDS Day,

Jesuit Father Fratern Masawe said that when AIDS first began to afflict Africa 25 years ago, “few of us reacted well. People who were HIV-positive or suffered from AIDS could easily find themselves condemned, rejected, cast out and treated ‘as good as dead.'” Over the years, Catholic agencies, including the African Jesuit AIDS Network, have worked to prevent the spread of HIV, defend the dignity of people who are HIV-positive and offer medical treatment and other assistance to those living with AIDS.

“It is very important for the church to get her life-affirming message across today to everyone. Abstinence and fidelity are not only the best ways to avoid HIV and tackle AIDS, but are the path to real, personal fulfillment,” Father Masawe’ s statement said.

Catholic News Service (CNS)