Spiritual Healing Threatening Adherence to Antiretrovirals in Uganda, Official Says
Unverified spiritual healing promoted by some churches throughout Uganda is threatening HIV-positive patients' adherence to antiretroviral drugs, Robert Ochai, executive director of The AIDS Support Organisation, said recently during the organization's 17th annual general meeting, Uganda's Monitor reports. According to the Monitor, several Pentecostal churches in the country invite the ill, including those living with HIV/AIDS, to participate in spiritual healing. Some churches promise miracles, sometimes in exchange for the patients' valuables, according to the Monitor.
"Some clients have been misled into prematurely stopping their medication, which is extremely harmful to their health," Ochai said, adding, "While we believe in God and his ability to perform miracles, we also encourage our clients to adhere to their medications." Ochai did not provide statistics on the number of HIV-positive people abandoning their antiretroviral regimens for faith healing but said that the problem is growing and requires urgent intervention.
Robert Nakibumba, TASO public relations officer, stressed the importance of antiretroviral adherence and said that although TASO clients have a more than 95% antiretroviral adherence rate, patients under different health care providers must remain on the drugs.
Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi said the government would allocate funding in the Ministry of Health's budget during the next fiscal year to address the increasing needs of HIV-positive people (Kirunda, Monitor, 9/30).