MEDICAL treatment for HIV/AIDS is "God-ordained", African faith
communities are being told, as part of a drive to encourage early
diagnosis and treatment.
A series of conferences organised by the Actionplus Foundation,
a charity working in the UK and Ghana, is urging congregations not
to shun medical treatment on the advice of pastors.
The founder and CEO of Actionplus, the Revd Fred Annin, said
that the message about HIV/AIDS still met with resistance from some
church leaders, who told their congregations that they should trust
in the power of prayer rather than seek medical treatment.
"People in African faith communities need to be told it is OK to
see a doctor, it is not a sin to seek treatment but that the
treatment is itself God ordained. We have to talk more about this
as there are still pastors for whom this is an issue where they can
prove their power over people. We say to people, you go to the
doctor with other problems, that is not a lack of faith. GPs are
there to support us - the scripture should not be used to stop
people from accessing doctors and treatment."
Removing the ignorance and misconceptions that still surround
the disease will also help people seek medical treatment, he said.
Late diagnosis frequently occurs in members of the African
community, and many fear the stigma of a diagnosis. Many are still
not aware that, with treatment, a person with HIV/AIDs can live a
near normal lifespan.
The charity has been working in HIV education in Ghana and the
UK for 18 years, and frequently uses faith leaders to get its