Over time, Latin American church leaders change response to HIV, AIDS

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church in Latin America is changing its approach to the continuing epidemic of HIV and AIDS, and many are welcoming the changes. “While moral double standards and stigma remain strong elements of the response to HIV and AIDS in many evangelical and Protestant churches, I’ve recently seen an enthusiastic willingness to deal openly with the epidemic from Catholic leaders,” said Dr. Eduardo Campana, an Ecuadorean who heads an AIDS program for the Latin American Council of Methodist Churches. “It’s somewhat surprising given their opposition to some forms of prevention, and I don’t know if the interest comes from on high or from the grass roots, but it’s helping to foster a broader response to HIV and AIDS and the factors that contribute to it,” he told Catholic News Service. For example, he said, the Mexican bishops’ conference released a groundbreaking pastoral letter during an international gathering of AIDS researchers and activists in August in Mexico City. The bishops urged people to work together to fight discrimination against those with AIDS and to avoid judging them.

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