Burundi’s Roman Catholic Church To Conduct Wedding Ceremonies Only For Couples Who Receive HIV Tests
Burundi's Roman Catholic Church on Friday announced that it will conduct marriage ceremonies only for couples who underwent HIV tests and can present certificates showing the results, Reuters Health reports. Although the church will require couples to present certification of having undergone the test, the test results will not affect whether the couples can marry, according to officials. They added that the church wants married partners to be aware of each other's HIV status (Reuters Health, 3/24). "We do not demand that the fiances show us the test results, but we demand the proof that they have taken the test and told the truth," Father Gelase Mugerowimana of the Bujumbura pastoral parish said. He added that the country's conference of bishops made the decision in November 2005 to require HIV tests. Burundi's National Association of People With HIV/AIDS criticized the church's announcement, saying the requirement "violates the right of the individual and threatens to counter the fight against the disease." ANSS head Jeanne Gapiya said, "That the Catholic Church should play its moral role in the society is one thing, but to play the police by giving orders is prejudicial to the fight against AIDS" (AFP/Independent Online, 3/25). She added, "People must be psychologically prepared to welcome results of their test ... but here, it is an obligation, and people will fear to do the test" (Reuters Health, 3/24). Roman Catholics are Burundi's largest religious group (BBC News, 3/24). The country had an adult HIV-prevalence rate of 6% in 2003, according to UNAIDS (Reuters Health, 3/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.