HIV-Positive African Clergy Urge HIV Testing, Publicizing HIV Status To Fight Stigma
A group of HIV-positive African clergy members is urging people to undergo HIV testing and make their HIV status public in order to help fight the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS on the continent, Reuters reports. The African Network for Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV/AIDS (ANERELA) -- which was established in 2002 to encourage openness about HIV/AIDS -- recently held a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, to allow clergy to share their experiences of HIV/AIDS-related discrimination and use their influence to fight the spread of the disease. "HIV is a virus, it's not a moral condition," Father Jape Heath, an Anglican vicar and a senior official with ANERELA, said, adding, "What we're encouraging people to do is to know their HIV status and to know there's no concept of sin attached to HIV." Zambian Muslim cleric Sheikh Ali Banda said a lack of education about HIV/AIDS and many cultural practices put people at risk of contracting the virus. "As religious leaders, we should understand that it's not a curse, not everyone that is HIV-positive is promiscuous, not everyone who is HIV-positive is sexually immoral," Banda said. About 25 million HIV-positive people live in Africa (Nguyen, Reuters, 6/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.