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Health News of Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Source: GNA

Religious leaders blamed for stigmatisation of HIV and AIDS patients

Reverend John Azuma, an Ambassador of the National Heart to Heart (H2H) Caravan has blamed some religious leaders for the spread and stigmatisation of the HIV and AIDS in the country.

He said religious leaders quoted some versus in the Bible to suggest that any person diagnosed with the disease was a punishment from God as a result of leading an immoral life.

Rev Azuma spoke in an interview with the Ghana News Agency at the sidelines of the 2nd Leg of the National H2H Campaign held in Tamale on Tuesday.

The H2H initiative by the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) sought to provide a human face to the HIV and AIDS disease through open disclosure of HIV zero-positive by Persons Living with HIV (PLHIV).

He said stigmatisation of People Living with HIV and AIDS often started from the Churches and the Mosques and was being initiated by the leaders.

“Pastors’ quote combined versus from Romans and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament, say that ‘….for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’, to paint a bad and scary picture about the disease to their congregation,” he said.

Rev Azuma condemned circumstances where pastors requested for HIV and AIDS test results before blessing people’s marriages.

“This I think is not fair because as a Pastor your mandate is just to counsel, advise and bless marriages but not to demand HIV test results to determine whether to bless or not……the power to marry depend on the two individuals involved.”

Rev Azuma said about 120 pastors were PLHIV.

As part of the day’s programme, the ambassadors, Rev Azuma and Mrs Lydia Azuma, Joyce Dzidzor Mensah and Gifty Torkornu shared their experiences and life stories with the audience.

Mr Amadu Langa, Regional Secretary of National Association of PLHIV/AIDS called on the GAC to reactivate the support project, which members were given funds to embark on self help projects to generate income for their livelihood.

He said about 85 per cent of the members of which women were in the majority were out of job due to their status of being infected with the disease.

“I was working with a security firm but because of my HIV status I was sacked,” he said.

Mr Langa called on employers to develop HIV and AIDS workplace Policy to enable PLWHIV/AIDS to contribute their quota to national development.

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