Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Reuters South Africa Examines African Anglican Church and HIV/AIDS
Reuters South Africa on Friday examined the "long way" the Anglican church in Africa has come from "the days it preached AIDS was God's punishment for the promiscuous" to "Bible studies about safe sex, openly HIV-positive priests and sermons against stigmatizing victims." The church in 2002 -- after 20 years of "official silence" on the pandemic -- said it played a role in stigmatizing HIV-positive people and launched an HIV education and support campaign, Reuters South Africa reports (Harrison, Reuters South Africa, 3/24). Kenyan Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi while speaking at an AIDS workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier this month apologized to HIV-positive people for the church's previous reference to the disease as a "curse from God," adding, "We apologize for earlier abandoning our flock, which was as a result of our ignorance of the disease, but today we are more informed" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/17). According to Reuters, leaders in the church are "largely on board with the softer approach," but there are "still pockets of conservatism" across the continent, and some clergy and HIV/AIDS advocates say the church needs to do more to reach such people. According to Anglican Church of Nigeria General Secretary Oluranti Odubogun, the church has vowed to fight HIV stigma in Nigeria. However, about one year ago Henry Ndukuba, bishop of the Gombe Diocese in Nigeria, said that AIDS is a judgment for homosexuals from God. "We can do a lot more," Bishop David Beetge, who chairs the HIV/AIDS board for the church in Southern Africa, said, adding, "I wouldn't want to give us top marks yet. AIDS is a call to the church to really look at our humanity in a very deep and positive way" (Reuters South Africa, 3/24).
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