12/05/2013, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Haiphong: Church and local organisations together for AIDS patients

by Thanh Thúy
Due to the lack of interest on the part of the Vietnamese government, thousands of people die of HIV every year. Haiphong alone has had more than 10,000 people with HIV/AIDS by June of this year. In the Year of Faith, the local Caritas and the Health Education Centre worked together to provide care and psychological and spiritual support to patients.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) - Caritas Haiphong (northern Vietnam ) is continuing to help people with HIV/AIDS who have been marginalised by a materialistic culture only interested in business. Charity work among people living with HIV, both Christians and non-Christians, was one of the main activities the Church undertook during the Year of Faith that just ended, involving local public officials as well.

"This year, we have taken care of our brothers and sisters living with this disease," a Caritas volunteer told AsiaNews. "We also brought them the Good News so as not to make them feel alone or give up hope."

Thanks to the contribution of Germany Misereor, a German Catholic organization, Caritas treated more than 3,200 people in one year. However, for the Catholic charity, it has been an uphill struggle because local authorities have shown little interest in funding programmes or buying drugs used in treating patients.

Ms Doan, director of Haiphong HIV/AIDS Centre Prevention, said that "the risk of contracting the virus will increase if the necessary measures to eradicate it are not taken."

In Haiphong alone, the number of HIV cases was more than 10,000 as of June 2013. Due to poor prevention, 5.900 of these have developed full-blown AIDS, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths.

Many of the patients are children who contracted HIV from their parents. To help the families, Caritas and officials from the Centre for Health Education Media of Haiphong City organised training courses to provide medical and psychological support to patients.

Nguyen Quang Chinh, deputy director of the Centre for Health Education Media of Haiphong City, and Fr Jean-Baptiste Vu Van Kien, director of Caritas Haiphong as well as representatives from ten 10 dioceses under the jurisdiction of the archdiocese of Hanoi took part in a recent seminar.

The latter provided training to 28 young Catholics who will serve among the sick in Quang Ninnh, You Durong and Haiphong, passing on their knowledge to other volunteers.

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