HIV, AIDS and Faith in Africa


World AIDS Day is December 1. For this day, Robin Basselin and Ryan Geertsma look at religious organizations and leaders helping people living with HIV and AIDS.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Robin Basselin.

Voice 2 

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

In 2002, Beatrice visited the hospital. She was not feeling well. Doctors performed medical tests. The results showed that Beatrice had HIV. She was shocked. She called her husband. She told him that she tested positive for the virus. That was the last time she talked with him. Her husband left and she never saw him again. Beatrice told the Christian Council of Ghana,

Voice 3 

“I felt my life was over. So many things came into my mind - including killing myself.”

Voice 2 

But Beatrice did not kill herself. She met people from a group called “Network of Persons Living with HIV/AIDS”. These people offered her support. They helped Beatrice learn about living with HIV/AIDS. They encouraged her.

Voice 1

December 1st is World AIDS Day. In honor of this day, today’s Spotlight is on how faith organizations in Sub Saharan Africa are supporting and educating people living with HIV and AIDS.

Voice 2 

Beatrice’s experience is very common. In Sub Saharan Africa more than 23 million people live with HIV and AIDS. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS yet. And HIV and AIDS can be very deadly if not treated. But good information and anti-retroviral drugs can help those who are infected with HIV. With these resources, people can live long and happy lives.

Voice 1 

For Beatrice, her faith gave her the courage to continue living. And the people who supported her gave her the resources she needed. Beatrice told the Christian Council of Ghana,

Voice 3 

“My husband left me. But God with His many mercies has not forgotten me. I have many people and friends in the support groups. Their support and encouragement keep me growing.”

Voice 2 

Beatrice had a wonderful experience. But, some faith communities have not always been so accepting and supportive of people living with HIV. Faith and belief are very important to many people in Africa. And religious teachings often influence the choices people make in life. Like Beatrice’s husband, some religious communities stigmatize people living with HIV and AIDS. They believe negative things about them and make them feel shame. But often, the negative beliefs are based on fear and false information.

Voice 1 

Many religious leaders and workers hope to change this situation.  They want to educate religious communities about HIV and AIDS.  And they want to give these communities tools to serve, treat and support people living with HIV and AIDS. They want to change how people think about HIV and AIDS.

Voice 2 

One of these organizations is the Christian Council of Ghana. This organization works to reduce the stigma and negative beliefs about HIV and AIDS. One way it does this is by working with Christian pastors and other church leaders.

Voice 1 

The Christian Council of Ghana organizes training events for church leaders.  At these events, the church leaders learn facts about HIV and AIDS. They also learn how their faith can positively influence the actions of their community. The church leaders also learn skills to help them educate their followers about HIV and AIDS. Reverend Michael Oware is a church leader in Ghana. He described to the Christian Council of Ghana how the training event affected him.

Voice 4

“All this time, I understood HIV and AIDS as a way to death… But the training events have given me the knowledge to correct this wrong understanding. The training gave me the chance to receive the right message for giving people guidance about HIV and AIDS. I have learned skills and facts about the disease. This has changed my attitude and thinking about HIV and AIDS. It also changed my attitude toward spreading knowledge and toward educating people about HIV and AIDS.”

Voice 2

Thokozile Beatrex Phiri works for an organization in Malawi. It is called Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association. This organization helps educate both Christian and Muslim faith leaders about AIDS in their communities. Phiri talked with Sojourners Magazine. She explained why the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association believes it is so important to involve faith leaders.

Voice 5 

“Stigma and unjust behaviour are some of the challenges of the HIV programming. The involvement of the faith leaders helps us know that they teach their communities to accept people living with HIV. We make sure they teach that HIV is not a sin. We come from very faithful communities. If the pastor or church leader says, “I can see success in you,” you believe it with all of your heart. This is why Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association decided to work with the faith community. The faith community has a big reach. Its voice of faith has a great influence on issues of health and medicine. For example, if a faith leader says, 'You have to keep taking your medication,' you have to believe it.”

Voice 1 

The work of the Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association is similar to the work of the Christian Council of Ghana. Both organizations teach faith leaders facts about HIV and AIDS. They teach how the HIV virus is passed from one person to another. They also teach how it can be prevented. And they help faith leaders understand how they can help bring positive change.

Voice 2 

Together religious organizations like Christian Council of Ghana and Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association are improving the situation for people living with HIV and AIDS in Africa. These groups recognize that faith is an important part of people’s lives. And they believe this means faith leaders have a responsibility - to help correct false information, teach true information, and welcome people who live with HIV and AIDS.

Voice 1 

Desmond Tutu is a famous Christian leader and human rights activist from South Africa. He has worked for many years to spread knowledge and understanding about HIV and AIDS. Like the leaders of the Christian Council of Ghana and Malawi Interfaith AIDS Association, he believes that people of faith have the power to change the situation. His words are a guide to religious leaders across Africa,

Voice 6

“We are the people who can bring change. We are able to change attitudes against the disease. We must recognize our connection to each other. No matter what the differences are in our physical places, our cultures or religious ideas, we must respect each other. We must stand shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, in the work against the spread of HIV and AIDS.”

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the Internet at http://www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “HIV, AIDS and Faith in Africa.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Comments


Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on November 29, 2013

I think that the education is a tool very important to educate much people around the world about HIV and AIDS.

Thanks Spotlight

Avatar Spotlight
Mss Flamboyant
said on December 01, 2014

In my community citizens are afraid of people living with HIV. People often isolate with them and do not give them any chances to connect with society again. Until now, I do not know exactly what I will do If I know people around me who are infected HIV virus.