AIDS is not a punishment from God, says African archbishop

By on January 5, 2009

Geneva
Faith leaders “should shout from the rooftops that AIDS is not a punishment from God but a medical condition which is preventable,” the former leader of South Africa’s Anglican church, Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, has told the World AIDS campaign.

Bishop Ndungane was speaking in an interview for the World AIDS campaign, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the marking of Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day. The campaign says World AIDS Day is a time of “global solidarity for a pandemic that has led to over 25 million deaths, with an estimated 33 million people currently living with HIV worldwide.”

Bishop Ndungange, who now heads African Monitor, a continental development agency, said that AIDS is “manageable and treatable although not curable,” as well as not being a punishment from God.

He added, “Faith leaders should hence commit themselves to working towards achieving a generation without AIDS, and show loving care and support for those infected. They should develop and implement imaginative strategies to fight stigmatization, ensure that infected people have access to the essential needs like nutrition and medical care, as well as encourage those not infected to stay uninfected.”

Linda Hartke, who heads the Geneva-based Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, said the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day was a time “to take stock of the faith-based response to HIV and AIDS.” She said an estimated 2.1 million children aged under 15 are living with HIV.

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