Picture: Huffington Post
At prayer healing services in some Pentecostal churches, pastors invite people infected with HIV to come forward for a public healing, after which they burn the person’s anti-retroviral medications and declare the person cured.
The “cure” is not free, and some people say they shell out their life savings to receive a miracle blessing and quit taking the drugs.
“I believe people can be healed of all kinds of sickness, including HIV, through prayers,” said Pastor Joseph Maina of Agmo Prayer Mountain, a Pentecostal church on the outskirts of Nairobi. “We usually guide them. We don’t ask for money, but we ask them to leave some seed money that they please.”
But the controversial ceremonies are raising red flags as believers’ conditions worsen, and a debate has opened over whether science or religion should take the lead in the fight against the AIDS epidemic.
The issue is not new for African societies that have grappled with similar matters, such as whether condoms can prevent transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS.
Some 6.3 million people are receiving anti-retroviral drugs in hospitals and clinics across eastern and southern Africa. The prayer healings are especially worrisome because people who quit treatment may become resistant to the drugs.
“We (clergy) must demonstrate leadership in this area,” said Jane Ng’ang’a, who coordinates the Kenya chapter of INERELA+, an interfaith network of religious leaders living with HIV. “We should be in the forefront, encouraging adherence to the medicines, as we offer psychological and mental support to those infected and affected.”
Source: Huffington Post Religion