Pastors take the test

Published January 1, 2005

Geneva

Twenty-seven Zimbabwean pastors from various Christian denominations have undergone a voluntary HIV test in a move aimed at removing stigma in the church against people living with HIV/AIDS.

The pastors from churches in the townships of Tafara and Mabvuku in Harare became the biggest group of church leaders ever to take HIV tests in Zimbabwe.

“Very often pastors are accused of preaching what they do not practise but now we have decided to lead by example,” Rev. Lindani Dube, chairman of the Mabvuku-Tafara Pastors’ Fraternity, told journalists after the group of pastors went through counselling and testing in late November.

“We are positive that a lot of church members will take a cue from their pastors and opt to know their HIV status,” Mr. Dube said

Like other neighbouring countries, there is discrimination in churches in Zimbabwe against people living with HIV/AIDS, where some preachers have labelled people living with the virus as “sinners” or “prodigal sons and daughters.” Zimbabwe is one of the worst hit countries by the HIV/AIDS pandemic with more than 2,500 people dying every week from illnesses related to the virus, and researchers saying that HIV/AIDS accounts for 75 per cent of hospital bed occupancy.

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