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HIV charity urges faith in medicine

30 January 2015

iSTOCK

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 message out.

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