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Right move by faiths in fight against HIV

Friday March 09 2012

A resolution by religious leaders to change their approach in the fight against HIV/Aids is quite encouraging.

Since its discovery about three decades ago, religious groups have generally been slow in responding to the challenge.

Quite often, the tendency has been to equate the scourge with sin since the majority of cases come through sexual intercourse.

Consequently, most of those infected have tended to go into hibernation for fear of being stigmatised.

Also, because of that conception, the faiths have not invested commensurate resources and time to fight the scourge.

Yet, HIV infection does not distinguish between the faithful and non-adherents.

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In fact, available evidence demonstrates that the faithful, among them married couples, constitute a fairly large proportion of those infected.

This is the reason why a change of heart in handling the scourge is significant.

A report published elsewhere in this edition present a declaration by the mainstream faiths to take a liberal approach to prevention, treatment and management of HIV/Aids.

They commit to review their theological interpretations against available scientific evidence and adjust where necessary.

Similarly, they seek to involve experts to educate their congregations and equip them with the knowledge and skills to tackle the challenge.

In other words, this is an acknowledgement that the pandemic cannot be tackled through dogma.

New challenges require new approaches. This is what Confucius meant centuries ago when he postulated that:

“They must often change, who would be in constant in happiness or wisdom.”

The lesson is that time has come for change of strategy. Medical science has proved that HIV infection does not condemn one to death.

The faiths must encourage openness so that their affected members can come out and seek medical and pyscho-sociological care.

There is no reason, for example, why the faiths should not help in procuring and providing anti-retrovirals to their needy faithful to prolong lives.

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