Thursday, 30 November 2017



Today, December 1st is the anniversary of the death of Brother Charles de Foucauld who was killed in the Sahara desert on 1st December 1916.

(Wikipedia) Charles Eugène de Foucauld (15 September 1858 – 1 December 1916) was a French Catholic religious and priest living among the Tuareg in the Sahara in Algeria. He was assassinated in 1916 and is considered by the Catholic Church to be a martyr. His inspiration and writings led to the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus among other religious congregations. He was beatified on 13 November 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.
As an officer of the French Army in North Africa he first developed his strong feelings about the desert and solitude. Toward the end of October 1886, he went through a conversion experience at the Church of Saint Augustin in Paris under Henri Huvelin (fr)'s guidance.[1]
Charles de Foucauld was born in a house located 3, Place Broglie in Strasbourg, France.[a] In 1890, de Foucauld joined the Cistercian Trappist order first in France and then at Akbès on the Syrian-Turkish border. He left in 1897 to follow an undefined religious vocation in Nazareth. He began to lead a solitary life of prayer near a convent of Poor Clares and it was suggested to him that he be ordained. In 1901, he was ordained in Viviers, France, and returned to the Sahara in French Algeria and lived a virtually eremitical life. He first settled in Béni Abbès, near the Moroccan border, building a small hermitage for "adoration and hospitality", which he soon referred to as the "Fraternity".
He moved to be with the Tuareg people, in Tamanghasset in southern Algeria. This region is the central part of the Sahara with the Ahaggar Mountains (the Hoggar) immediately to the west. Foucauld used the highest point in the region, the Assekrem, as a place of retreat. Living close to the Tuareg and sharing their life and hardships, he made a ten-year study of their language and cultural traditions. He learned the Tuareg language and worked on a dictionary and grammar. His dictionary manuscript was published posthumously in four volumes and has become known among Berberologists for its rich and apt descriptions. He formulated the idea of founding a new religious institute, under the name of the Little Brothers of Jesus.
On 1 December 1916, de Foucauld was dragged from his fortress by a gang of armed bandits led by El Madani ag Soba, who was connected with the Senussi Bedouin. They intended to kidnap de Foucauld, but when the gang was disturbed by two guardsmen, one startled bandit (15-year-old Sermi ag Thora) shot him through the head, killing him instantly.[3] The murder was witnessed by sacristan and servant Paul Embarek, an African Arab former slave liberated and instructed by de Foucauld.[4]
The French authorities continued for years searching for the bandits involved. In 1943 El Madani fled French forces in Libya to the remote South Fezzan. Sermi ag Thora was apprehended and executed at Djanet in 1944.[5]
De Foucauld was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on 13 November 2005,[6] and is listed as a martyr in the liturgy of the Catholic Church.
Charles de Foucauld inspired and helped to organize a confraternity within France in support of his idea. This organisation, the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, consisted of 48 lay and ordained members at the time of his death. This group, notably Louis Massignon, the world-famous scholar of Islam, and René Bazin, author of a best-selling biography, La Vie de Charles de Foucauld Explorateur en Maroc, Ermite du Sahara (1921), kept his memory alive and inspired the family of lay and religious fraternities that include Jesus Caritas, the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus, among a total of ten religious congregations and nine associations of spiritual life. Though originally French in origin, these groups have expanded to include many cultures and their languages on all continents.

The 1936 French film The Call of Silence depicted his life.[7]

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

Some people use the terms ‘HIV’ and ‘AIDS’ as if they mean the same thing but they don’t.

HIV is a virus and people with it have ‘HIV infection’. Most of them don’t have AIDS.

AIDS is a name to describe a set of illnesses people with HIV eventually get if they don’t receive treatment.

But treatment is so good that few people with HIV in the UK now develop AIDS.

There is a test for the virus (an HIV test) but there is no ‘AIDS test’.

And people can get HIV but they cannot ‘catch AIDS’.

HIV in the UK

 — 2016 statistics estimated 89,400 people are living with HIV in the England.Of these, 12% are undiagnosed and do not know about their HIV infection.There were 5,164 new HIV diagnoses.442 people with HIV died in 2016 for all causes. The overall mortality rate for people aged 15-59 diagnosed with HIV is, for the first time, equal to that of the general population for the same age group.278 people were diagnosed with an AIDS-defining illness. This is less than half than those diagnosed with AIDS in 2006.42% of people diagnosed with HIV in 2016 were diagnosed late.More than a third (38%) of people accessing care were aged over 50.One in seven gay and bisexual men living with HIV were from black, Asian and other minority (BAME) groups.76% of people newly diagnosed have started antiretroviral treatment within 90 days.London continues to have the highest HIV prevalence in the country, with 40% of all people living with HIV in England living in London.The Midlands and the East of England region have the highest prevalence (19%) of new diagnoses outside of London.

Record numbers of people were diagnosed with HIV in Ireland last year amid concerns that a growing ambivalence about the disease is putting increasing numbers of people at risk.

More than 500 new cases of HIV were diagnosed, the highest rate since records began. Rates have been rising steadily since 2011, with the rate of new infections increasing significantly within the past two years.

The figures come at the same time that new research shows the life expectancy for young people with HIV in the western world is now as high as 76, helped by ever-improving treatments.

“Projections suggest that life expectancy of a 20-year-old who began treatment from 2008 onwards and had a low viral load after a year of treatment may approach that of the general population [about 78 years old],” the study published in The Lancet HIV journal this week states.

Newly released figures from Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that 512 people were diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus in 2016. Of these, 77 percent were male and 23 percent female.

However, over half of the new cases are people who were born outside of Ireland, but who came to Ireland in recent years. So far this year, there have been 183 new HIV cases. If this trend continues, 2017 will surpass last year’s figure.

Nearly half of the new HIV cases resulted from sex between men. Nearly a fifth came after heterosexual sex. Just 4 percent of cases are reported from people who inject drugs.

RelatedRecord 512 HIV cases diagnosed in the State in 2016Younger people with HIV can live as long as those without it HIV expert calls on Ireland to help end stigma around virus

However, the source of nearly a third of all of the cases – 31 percent – recorded by the HPSC remained “unknown”, according to the HSE website.

An HSE spokeswoman said the rise was a cause for concern. It said that homosexuals from Latin America were a particularly high-risk group “some of whom are acquiring HIV in Ireland and others who are coming to Ireland already infected with HIV”.

Part of the HSE response includes increased funding for screenings and working with the Gay Health Network to promote sexual health.

Steady increase

Niall Mulligan of HIV Ireland said the steady increase was “extremely concerning” but that some of the increase could be attributed to better detection procedures.

“There has been a steady increase over the last few years. Some of that is down to improved testing, so we are getting the numbers quicker.

“The other side is people are coming into Ireland, either students or coming from abroad to work. If they have already been diagnosed with HIV in the country they are coming from, they still have to go through HIV testing.”

Experts have also attributed the rise to an increase in unprotected sex in the gay community spurred by online dating apps such as Grindr and the use of recreational drugs during sex.

“I think there is definitely a scene which I suppose internationally would be described as the ‘chemsex’ scene. It’s the association of the use of chemical drugs with multiple sexual partners, group sex, and unsafe sex,” Dr. Des Crowley, an addiction specialist at the Mountjoy Square Treatment Centre, said.

“Then I suppose within another sub-group of that is people who are choosing to have less safe sex. My own view is that people don’t really see HIV as being as serious a disease as previously.”

The new Lancet study states that thanks to a variety of factors such as less-toxic treatment drugs and better adherence to treatment programmes, a 20-year-old man with HIV can expect to live to about 73 years of age while a woman can expect to live to about 76.

The study tracked 88,504 people with HIV from 18 European and North American cities who started antiretroviral treatment between 1996 and 2010.

Andrew Leavitt of the Dublin HIV/Aids activist group Act Up said that although some surveys showed condom use was dropping among homosexuals, it was overly simplistic to attribute the rise in HIV cases to ambivalence about the issue.

“Condom use isn’t necessarily the best proxy for what kind of risks people are taking. A lot of people understand that treatments which help people live longer also prevent transmission.

“There isn’t one single factor we can point to for increased HIV diagnoses,” Mr. Leavitt said. “The idea that treatment is making people care less also ignores the fact the HIV is really heavily stigmatized, particularly in the gay community.”


There is still a great deal of IGNORANCE surrounding HIV and AIDS - even among medical professionals - not to mention the general public.

To have HIV is to have come into contact with the HIV virus.

Having HIV DOES NOT MEAN that you either have or ever will have AIDS. In fact, as you will see from the graphs above the vast majority of people with HIV will NEVER get AIDS as long as they get antiretroviral treatment and take it faithfully.

The test for HIV is a blood test. This test counts your blood cell level - your CD 4's and the amount of HIV that appears in your blood.

Most people on HIV treatment have a NON DETECTABLE level of HIV virus in their blood - which also means that they cannot pass on HIV to others.

In the beginning of this health crisis AIDS was a terminal illness.

Nowadays no one dies of AIDS or even gets AIDS if they take their medication.

In fact HIV is an easier illness to manage than diabetes.

Many diabetics have to inject themselves 4 times a day and constantly test their blood.

Modern-day HIV treatment can be as simple as ONE TABLET A DAY with 6 monthly blood tests.


  1. How many billions of pounds, euros, dollars have been spent on research and treatment of HIV/AIDS that could have been spent on unavoidable conditions such as cancer or global killers such as dysentery.

    What's the connection between Blessed Charles and HIV?

    1. Do you resent the money spent on HIV ends AIDS?

      Connection? Dec 1st is the anniversary of Charles death AND World AIDS day.

      Some cancers are unavoidable too - lung cancer from smoking?

  2. Today, the American Episcopal Church commemorates Nicholas Ferrar the founder of a unique community at Little Gidding. Francis Clooney SJ, on his Harvard blog, points out that it is also the feast of Edmund Campion. Interesting possibilities for your nascent community, my lord bishop! (The C of E confounds Fr. Clooney’s observation by commemorating Nicholas on the fourth.)

    1. Thank you +Pat for the update on HIV. I think it is wonderful that it is now a chronic illness and not terminal one. In the 1980s and 90s I lost several friends to it. Had the current drugs being available then my friends would still be alive. Stan. London.

    2. Stan, I also had friends die - including one 19 year old. Thank God those days are over. Pat.

    3. My mother died of AIDS after being infected with my father who was a drug addict who shared needles. He has survived but the family will never forgive him for what he did to our mother.

    4. Those days are not completely "over"and there are many deaths every year from AIDS although it is true that there are heartening improvements in drugs which treat it. There are also many undiagnosed cases of HIV which come to light as they have not gone to be tested.

  3. I am very lucky with my Diabetes. I take Metformin and Alogliptin. Thank God there are no complications and i lead a fairly normal life if there is such a thing. Motto here I think should be that Church and State work for the wellbeing of all.

    1. Pay attention to your eye health.
      Pay attention to the circulation and health in the feet.

  4. On this day we remember all who are seriously ill, some terminally, others in constant pain. Perhaps, as an alternative to the usual "muck", innuendo, gossip that's exchanged here, wouldn't it be worthwhile if, at least once a week, - Fridays before Christmas - we dedicate thoughts and prayers to all who are in despair, all who are homeless, hopeless and all in distress of any kind. And, when and where possible, give a donation to a Charity or do something practical to alleviate much suffering in the lives of many. I recommend Br. Kevin's Day Care Centre and Alice Leahy's TRUST - not a penny goes to waste. May God bring inner healing and peace to all who are sick. Br. Charles is an inspiration to all peoples.

  5. Today’s first comment is bizzare. The important word seems to be ‘unavoidable.’ The implication is that because AIDS is avoidable those who are infected with HIV don’t deserve to have had all that money spent on efforts to eliminate and treat the condition.

    What a warped set of priorities!

    1. I know. Diabetes is unavoidable. Some cancers are unavoidable. Sports injuries ate unavoidable. Alcoholism is unavoidable. Etc.

    2. Obesity is avoidable (and its consequential health risks). So are most road traffic accidents. And so, too, is drug addiction. And so on, ad infinitum.

      I recall the heartless answer of an English Tory politician to a mother who had pleaded with him to have government spend more public money on treating drug addicts. (Her daughter was 'a junkie'.) He said this might be hard for her to bear, but that, in his opinion, drug addiction was 'self-inflicted' and, therefore, that he didn't believe it justifiable to spend more taxpayers' money on treating such people.

      The exact same point was put to an NHS hospital doctor...and I've never forgotten his answer (nor its wisdom): he said that the NHS deals with the consequences of 'human weakness', the implication being that should medical treatment be denied on this ground, then few (if any) would qualify for help.

  6. I have very good friend who is hiv+ and you will find this hard to believe but he is constantly asked to have unprotected sex with people so they can be "pozzed up" . There are truly some nut cases in this world!

    1. There is a large minority in the gay community who WANT HIV!

      I don't understand it.

      Who would want any illness?

    2. 19:03, inexplicably, it has become an ideological goal, among some gay men, to declare themselves HIV positive. To this end, these uninfected males will seek out men already HIV positve in order to receive unprotected anal sex from them. These HIV positive men are known, bizzarely, as 'gift givers'.

  7. Don't believe everything you hear.
    It's never a good idea to be too gullible.

    1. 21.10 strange as it may seem but it's totally true

  8. Pat at 19.50. Why would anyone want any illness - it is beyond belief that your observation could be true. Even to have a bad headache is annoying and to have a constant one, worrying. I would never wish for anyone to be struck with an illness. I believe we should begin each day with gratitude to God for what we have and remember in prayer all who are burdened. But to read that a large minority in gay community want HIV is beyond belief!! Why?

  9. So now, as it's 2nd Dec. it's not World Aids Day. Good... We may move on.