IRCU roots for HIV testing corners at places of worship

By Paul Watala

IRCU religions for peace programme manager health and HIV/AIDS, Charles Serwanja told religious leaders from the eastern region on Tuesday that clergies enjoy a lot of influence, which can be useful in the HIV/AIDS fight.

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KAMPALA -Inter-Religious Council Uganda (IRCU) wants HIV centres established at churches and mosques to provide counseling and testing services to followers.

IRCU religions for peace programme manager health and HIV/AIDS, Charles Serwanja told religious leaders from the eastern region on Tuesday that clergies enjoy a lot of influence, which can be useful in the HIV/AIDS fight.

“In 2012 religious leaders came out and agreed on six pillars and it’s upon these pillars that we want HIV/AIDS testing and counseling corners to be established at mosques and churches,” Serwanja said.

He also urged clergies to encourage married partners, especially men to go for routine HIV counseling and testing after every three months.

“This message should seriously focus on men because they are still involved with multiple sexual partners,” Serwanja said.  “ The government, NGOs and other organizations have tried.  We are now looking at what churches and mosques can do (in the HIV/AIDS fight),” he added.

Rev. Tom Wananda said that churches have been advocating for good health, ending early pregnancies but are challenged by lack of information.

He called upon the government and concerned ministries to train clergies in related topics to help them do the job better. 

Fr. Francis Ekong from Moroto expressed fear about what he called increasing contract marriages. This, he said, is likely to increases the spread of HIV in communities as women and men move from one relationship to another.