HIV - Praying for a cure?

Publish Date: 20/10/2011

You may have read about the story in the press that some Evangelical Christian Churches around the country are recommending that patients suffering from conditions such as HIV should rely more on praying to God and less about adhering to their HIV medications.

All of us, including the Faith community, have an important role to play in reducing HIV, and challenging stigma but surely no matter how strong your faith is, prayer alone is no substitute for adhering to HIV medications?

According to research  by the African Health Policy Network. Worshippers in London, Manchester and Glasgow have stopped taking life-saving drugs after being persuaded about the healing powers of God.

A BBC London investigation has also revealed that at least three women with HIV have died after they stopped taking medication on the advice of their pastors.

Responding to the BBC London investigation, Lord Fowler, the former health minister responsible for the famous Aids awareness campaign of the 1980s, condemned the practice.

"It's just wrong, bad advice that should be confronted," said the Tory peer, who chaired last month's House of Lords committee into HIV. Lord Fowler condemned pastors giving this advice, saying: "It's dangerous to the public and dangerous in terms of public health."

The recent House of Lords committee report into HIV awareness said faith groups' approaches to supporting people with HIV had improved but more needed to be done.

"It is essential that faith leaders engage with HIV as an issue and provide effective and truthful support and communication around the subject,"

Rob Cookson, Director of Programmes & Performance at the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, said; "Evidence highlights the importance and effectiveness of HIV medication.  If someone is diagnosed early and then adheres to their medication they can in the vast majority of cases manage their health condition and look forward to a near normal life expectancy.

"All of us, including the Faith community, have an important role to play in reducing HIV, and challenging stigma. The Lesbian & Gay Foundation strongly supports the House of Lords Committee Report into HIV, which highlighted that; “It is essential that faith leaders engage with HIV as an issue and provide effective and truthful support and communication around the subject."

For further information and support regarding HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections please visit: www.lgf.org.uk/Get-support/What-is-HIV-/ or www.lgf.org.uk/testing

or why not give us a call: 0845 3 30 30 30.