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East African priest HIV needs help
Jun 11, 1998

I am an HIV+ priest in E. Africa and I'd like to know what sort of assistance/help/advice is offered priests in the West (USA or Europe) with HIV. Here in E. Africa it is a terrible plight with no 'official' help, only shame. By help, I mean, practical, medical, psychological, spiritual.

Thank you very much.

Fr. M.

Response from Father DeMartini

To my brother priest in East Africa: First of all I send my support and prayers to you as you live with the double burden of HIV and isolation caused by others' fear and judgement. In several days, our Network (National Catholic AIDS Network) will be hosting an annual meeting of directors of organizations representing religious brothers and sisters and clergy as well as vocation and formation directors. The focus of the conversation, exchange of information and networking will be the impact of HIV/AIDS on clergy and religious. Our Network has, since its foundation, advocated for intelligent, just and compassionate response to priests, sisters and brothers living with HIV/AIDS as well as those who have devoted their ministry to caring for those infected. This response is on all the levels you indicated. I have seen many occasions where priests and religious are respected, allowed to continue in the ministry and become educators of their community and diocese. Regretfully, there have been occasions where clergy and religious have been "sent away" and feel isolated and shamed as you do. I do know that there are people associated with Caritas in various parts of the world you are also trying to respond to the challenges faced by clergy and religious with HIV/AIDS -- I would be happy to refer you to some of these individuals in the hope that they could help you experience some of the help and support that is available in the US. You are in my prayers. Please stay in contact. Rodney



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