Fighting Poverty is the key issue in fighting HIV AIDS

“Social vaccines” for protection of the weakest members of society – women and children - necessary.

VIENNA (July 20, 2010) – On the occasion of the World Aids Conference currently taking place in Vienna, CARE Austria held a press conference today with international guests, entitled "Fighting Poverty - Fighting Aids". In addition to the hostess, CARE Austria's managing director Dr. Andrea Wagner-Hager, Dr. Anton Markmiller, director of CARE Germany, Dr. Auma Obama from CARE USA East and Central Regional Office in Kenya as well as the President of CARE USA, Dr. Helene Gayle were attending.

CARE Austria's managing director Andrea Wagner-Hager recalled that sub-Saharan Africa is still the most affected region by HIV/Aids and gave an overview of the efforts of CARE in the global fight against HIV/Aids. As part of its HIV program, the organization has projects in more than 40 countries. "The vicious circle of HIV/Aids is especially for women and girls who are underprivileged, in poor regions, very difficult to break," said Wagner-Hager. "Besides the important medical interventions - such as access to medicines and treatment needs – there is a primarily need of "social vaccines" to fight poverty and ignorance sustainable. Today the region in which an HIV-infected person lives decides of how his destiny and his disease will be affected. For poor countries, the drug treatment of HIV/Aids is often not affordable”, said Wagner-Hager.

In regions where women and girls have no opportunity to attend school, where they have virtually no rights and where their life is determined by others, where they are exposed defenseless to domestic and sexual violence, there it is hardly possible for women and girls to break the vicious cycle of oppression, powerlessness and HIV infection. "The empowerment of women and girls at all levels of society is the main way of prevent HIV more effectively. This is the central concern of CARE Austria", Wagner-Hager continued.

Anton Markmiller, managing director of CARE Germany, reported of the experience by CARE’s HIV/Aids projects in South Africa and accented the special need for children and young people to be offered a way out of poverty and a violence embossed life. "Sport projects with children and young people are an alternative to their life on the rubbish dump, in the slums or on the street. Who could have learned once that team spirit is essential, that there is a need to make friends and that each individual is important, they will take their life into their own hands and that is a good way out of lethargy and fatalism. "Kick it - choose life" is the slogan of the CARE project in the township of Soshanguve, South Africa.

Auma Omaba presented her project in Kenya "Sport for Social Change," in which she coordinates some 35 organizations that work with several thousand children and young people. "The idea is to identify children and young people a direction to them to open channels. Many children come from a difficult family situation. We use sports as an instrument to deal with issues and problems. Sport acts as a mirror image of life. In particular, young women have a hard time in Kenya, to get a good education and earn a decent income. We give them an opportunity by using the vehicle sports. It is not about to be the best in football, but the self-confidence of girls", Obama describes the objectives of the initiative.

The President of CARE USA, Helene Gayle, emphasized the need to continue to use all available instruments to reduce the spread of HIV and to ensure appropriate treatment of HIV-infected individuals to put a lasting contribution to the fight against Aids: „We must continue to use all the available tools to reduce the spread of HIV and provide treat¬ment for those living with HIV if we are going to have a long term and sustained impact on the epidemic. This requires a holistic approach that includes reducing the vulnerability of those at greatest risk, especially adolescent girls and women. It is critical to provide services that meet the specific needs of adolescent girls and women in all aspects of their lives.

For example, pregnant women need access to medication and programs for safe motherhood and early child development. Linking these services with family planning and HIV prevention programs would more fully respond to women’s sexual and reproductive health needs.”

For further information contact:
Thomas Hohenberger, Press and Media
T.: 01/7250715-39
E-Mail: thomas.hohenberger@care.at