AFRICA - No discrimination of AIDS patients; emphasis on "miraculous" solutions

Monday, 2 December 2013

Monrovia (Agenzia Fides) - A "new generation of churches " that claim to be able to heal or perform miracles is having a damaging effect on Liberia’s progress in fighting HIV/AIDS. This was stated by the Health Ministry official David Logan, according to whom the increase of new generation churches that link their preaching to prevailing local beliefs in healing or miracle cures with the result that people with HIV were not seeking proper medical treatment.
"Unlike traditional Catholic, Lutheran or Episcopalian churches, the new churches claim to be able to give spiritual deliverance, provide healing or perform miracles. This is an attractive option for many people living in an impoverished, post-conflict Liberia" said the Minister to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"Transport and opportunity costs as well as the stigma associated with coming out with HIV has meant that patients from outlying communities are more likely to seek help in these nearby local new churches rather than medical centres based in the capital" added the Minister.
In Liberia, which is still recovering from nearly 15 years of civil war, there are about 18,000 people who are in need of anti-retroviral therapy (ART).
The acceptance of people living with HIV and AIDS was the central theme of the message of Caritas Dakar on the occasion of World AIDS Day, which was celebrated yesterday. "People who are living with HIV or affected by AIDS are still subject to prejudice and discrimination", said the statement sent to Fides. "We cannot tolerate these habits that offend people in their human dignity and dissuade them from being subject to check-ups and care".
Caritas Senegal through the diocesan delegation in Dakar has long been engaged in supporting people living with HIV/AIDS. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 02/12/2013)