De Klerk, Mandela, Tutu Offer Prayers through AIDS Campaign
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former South African Presidents F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela yesterday kicked off the "Prayer for HIV/AIDS Day" campaign by attending a "healing and reconciliation" service at the Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports. Initiated by Aggrey Klaaste, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Sowetan, the campaign is designed to highlight the HIV/AIDS crisis and the stigma surrounding the epidemic. Mandela, who ignited a "flame of hope" as the parishioners "prayed for wisdom to find a cure," compared AIDS to apartheid, and said that the disease was a "new challenge" for South Africa. "We will find another miracle and win the battle. We can heal our land," Mandela said (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12/6). He added, "One of the things we must do is to support AIDS sufferers -- to give them love, to shake hands with them, to embrace them. I sincerely hope that the attitude of our people toward AIDS sufferers is going to change because that way, we will be helping them to fight against this deadly disease" (Associated Press, 12/6). Tutu, comparing AIDS to leprosy, said that "[w]hat we are doing today to AIDS sufferers is exactly how people who suffered from leprosy were treated in the Bible." He challenged "Christians to lead by example and preach to the community to love one another" (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12/6). De Klerk spoke to the importance of talking about the disease. "If we communicate, everyone will know what causes AIDS, what spreads it and how we can defeat it," de Klerk said, adding, "Children at school should be taught about the disease and they should feel free to talk about it everywhere. Then they will know and understand that AIDS kills" (Associated Press, 12/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.