The Vatican has made public an English-language statement from the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers for World AIDS Day 2011.
The text, signed by Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the pontifical council, says that the Day "must constitute a new opportunity to promote universal access to therapies for those who are infected, the prevention of transmission from mother to child, and education in lifestyles that involve, as well, an approach that is truly correct and responsible as regards sexuality. In addition, this is a privileged moment to relaunch the fight against social prejudice".
An estimated 1,800,000 people still die every year because of HIV/AIDS, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. "These are people who could lead normal lives if they only had access to suitable pharmacological therapies, those known as antiretroviral therapies," the statement says.
It goes on: "Deaths are thus witnessed that are no longer justifiable, just as the pain of the relatives of the people involved. ... By now the transmission of the infection from mothers to their children, who often become victims even before they begin to see the outlines of the world that surrounds them, equally, cannot be justified.
"Although the extension of these therapies to all peoples and to all the parts of a population is something that cannot but be engaged in, of fundamental importance, on the other hand, remains the formation, the education, of everyone, and in particular the new generations, in a sexuality based upon 'an anthropology anchored in natural law and illuminated by the Word of God'.
"The Church and her Magisterium ask for a lifestyle that privileges abstinence, conjugal faithfulness and the rejection of sexual promiscuity, because, as the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Africae munus' emphasised, all of this forms a part of the question of the 'integral development' to which people and communities have a right.
"In launching this new appeal for commitment and solidarity in favour of all the (both direct and indirect) victims of HIV/AIDS, we would like to thank, in union of spirit with the Holy Father, all those who have striven, often for very many years, to help them. We are referring here to institutions, agencies and volunteers who 'work in the sector of health care and especially of AIDS'. ... who, without doubt, deserve the operational support, and support without ideological ties, of international organisations and benefactors.
"Lastly, we wish to express our proximity to people afflicted by HIV/AIDS, to those who are near to them, and to all those healthcare workers who, being exposed to the risk of infection as well, provide all possible care to them, respecting their personalities and their dignity", the statement concludes.