By Pelagia Bhebhe
The religious institutions have a role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS epidemic, as they are one of the influential structures in the society.
Evidence can be drawn from some countries like Senegal with low HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, due to the role assumed by some religious bodies. The Muslims in Senegal have acquired the role of teaching people about epidemic.
With some religious bodies dissuading people to use the contraceptives like condoms as a way of preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS the Muslims in Senegal persuade people to adopt condoms as they have the ability to reduce HIV/AIDS. The Muslims have gone to the extent of endorsing condoms within marriage if they are used for health reasons in this case prevention of HIV/AIDS.
Furthermore the Muslim leaders promote values such as abstinence and fidelity amongst married couples. These are some of precaution measures that the Muslims promote in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the spread of HIV/AIDS
To note is that these values, to be specific abstinence amongst married couples can present another challenge of infidelity which can further increase the spread of the virus. Youths can be persuaded to abstain as a way of preventing them from contracting the virus.
However, with the media persuading the religious bodies to take centre stage and take part in the fight against the epidemic, some institutions have claimed that they can heal those who have contracted the virus.
Kapachawo, a reverend pastor cited in Bulawayo 24 News once said, “The church leaders are making people believe that they are cured of the disease and even discourage them from taking ARVs.”
This has become a norm in Zimbabwe as most HIV positive patients default from taking ARVs because the prophets claim to have healed them of the virus.