The multi-sectoral approach to HIV/AIDS put in place by the Ministry of Health in the year 2000 recognised the role of faith-based organisations as well as religious institutions in behaviour change communication for HIV/AIDS prevention and control.
With due respect, Faith Based organisations such as the Protestant Medical Bureau, the Catholic Medical Bureau, the Islamic Medical Association of Uganda and the Inter-Religious Council have made commendable contributions to HIV mitigation. However, their contribution has been compromised by the many unethical churches and/or religious institutions that have sprung up.
Religion has borrowed a leaf from the secular business world. It is now the numbers that matter. Perhaps the best marketing strategy that these churches employ is to claim healing powers. Healing and miracles similar to Jesusâ€™ healing are crowd-pullers. Those who have tried the health care services and think the services have failed will find hope for a cure in prayer and open confession as well as public display of faith.
Many People Living With HIV/AIDS attend these churches in order to receive counselling, spiritual healing, pschyco-social support and fellowship. HIV/AIDS patients on ARVs in their public testimonies are told to declare their HIV status in order to receive prayer and healing. Are they doing it voluntarily or is it a condition to receive prayer? Isnâ€™t their right to privacy, confidentiality and respect violated? Isnâ€™t this behaviour stigmatising and discriminatory to these people?
Some of the followers on drugs are told to throw their pills away and proclaim to all how they have been â€˜curedâ€™. Those on ARVs, Septrin and other treatment for opportunistic infections are told to surrender their pills. ARVs are then taken back stage and burnt as an earthly and ungodly tool and the patients are told not to go back to medical facilities on grounds that for the power of God or Holy Spirit will heal them. Consequently, their immunity will regress resulting in resistance that some of them will die if they resume treatment. Isnâ€™t this a violation of the right to continued treatment and right to life?
Churches aggravating AIDS problem