Doctor Sheea-Ngwako, the Anglican Church Mother's Union Provincial President has said it is time for the church to be fully involved in the battle against HIV/AIDS by caring for the infected and the affected.
"HIV/AIDS is not only a physical problem for medical personnel to handle, but also a spiritual and social issue in which Christian leaders, pastors and lay-people must be involved. The church needs to be committed to dealing with HIV/AIDS related issues," Sheea-Ngwako said.
She asserted that the church must repent from its past denial of the existence of AIDS and its refusal to take responsibility in confronting the epidemic.
"As people of God, some believed that AIDS does not affect them, they believed AIDS is a disease for people who do not follow God, but I think you will agree with me that this disease is here amongst us," Sheea-Ngwako said.
She added that for the church to respond positively to the epidemic, it requires a combination of knowledge and changed practices and behaviour. She argued that even though education and awareness have brought widespread knowledge of HIV/AIDS, people's behaviours still has not changed. She said the evidence is the fact that despite the aggressive measures by the government to disseminate information about the epidemic, the epidemic is still spreading at an alarming rate.
"The church needs to recognise these barriers and to change behaviour and deal with them. The barriers to be recognised are blame shifting, rejection of the nature of AIDS and its transmission, rejection of people living with AIDS, fear to take a Christian stand and poor biblical teachings on unconditional love," Sheea-Ngwako.
She said blaming people on the basis that they got HIV because they were drunk or because they have many sexual partners should not be adopted by any of the church members or society. Sheea-Ngwako said this does not help solve anything and instead of the blame game, those living with HIV should be supported. She advised the church against judging people living with HIV/AIDS. She added that the church could provide support to people leaving with HIV/AIDS in a number of ways like pastoral care, pastoral counselling and strengthening the family.