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Charity tackles HIV rates in UK

29 November 2013

ANNE LAERKE KOEFOED

Action stations: the Revd Fred Annin launches the HIV campaign

Action stations: the Revd Fred Annin launches the HIV campaign

IN the week before World AIDS Day, a charity has entered into partnership with churches to tackle the high rate of HIV among Africans in the UK.

The Actionplus Foundation said that 30 times more Africans are HIV positive compared with the average Briton, and churches had an important part to play in undoing the stigma surrounding AIDS.

The charity launched a new HIV testing clinic at Living Flames Baptist Church, Walthamstow, in north London, on 24 November, a week before World AIDS Day on Sunday 1 December. The founder of ActionPlus, the Revd Fred Annin, said that churches must do more to educate their congregations.

"The Bible does not condemn people with HIV as cursed," he said. "It shouldn't be taboo to discuss it in churches. It's a medical condition, and people need medical help. Prayer cannot bring our health back when we ignore medicine."

Speaking at an event in Walworth, south London, to launch the charity's campaign Take Action Now, the chief executive of the Mildmay HIV hospital, Ross White, said that two-thirds of patients came from black communities.

Mr Annin said that those who were HIV-positive needed support from their churches, not moral condemnation. ActionPlus, which is based at Christ Church, Blackfriars Road, is starting a training programme for ministers and church leaders, to educate them about the particular challenge that AIDS poses to the African community.

Canon Sue Booys, Rector of Dorchester, writes: "I have just returned from a visit to an AIDS project in our link diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman, in South Africa. We also visited a project in Mumias and Musanda, Kenya, where the NASIO Trust, a charity based in Abingdon, provides orphaned children with a meal one day a week. Both projects are in communities where the numbers of people who are HIV-positive is very high.

"The stark reality of seeing so many children queue for a meagre plateful of food is shocking. A number of under-fives bring the babies that they are looking after, and save a tiny portion of food to eat - or even share - later. Anything we can do to make a difference is a must."

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