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The Pilling report and AIDS prevention

by
24 October 2014

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From Mrs April Alexander

Sir, - After Mr Gavin Turner's letter (10 October), I would like to draw attention to another matter that seems to be missing from the Pilling debate. This is that the official guidance is similarly "almost certainly a serious obstacle" to reducing the number of deaths from AIDS in parts of the Communion.

Lord Fowler, in AIDS: Don't die of prejudice (2014), reminds us that 1.5 million people die every year from AIDS, although "we have the means to at least contain the virus." The reason, in a word, is "prejudice". "The penalty for disclosure in many parts of the world is to be thrown out of the family house and out of work." Sufferers in some communities in Britain experience similar impediments to seeking help.

In some countries, legislation is cruel, and government PR against homosexuality is appalling. Here "the Churches have generally played a discreditable part," including two successive Anglican archbishops in Uganda. "Meanwhile the [Church of England] fumbles for a position on gay people," and "even in Britain you find Bishops deciding that the civil right of equal marriage should not be available to their own clergy. They should beware, lest their reputation for intolerance spread."

The final chapter is headed "The shame of the world", and it is clear that the Anglican Communion does not escape responsibility here. In view of the number of deaths and the number of orphans, perhaps this issue should also be incorporated in the Pilling debate.

APRIL ALEXANDER

General Synod member

59 High Street, Bletchingley

Redhill RH1 4PB

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