African Church leaders take HIV tests

Delegates attending a Pan African church assembly in Cameroonhave voluntarily taken the AIDS test to dramatise the importance ofHIV screening and to fight the stigma associated with the scourge.Their symbolic gesture came ahead of World AIDS Day, which istoday.

Last Wednesday, delegates to the All Africa Conference ofChurches (AACC) Eighth General Assembly, reviewed the dire factsand figures, heard testimonies from HIV-positive clergy and laityand adopted a ten-point covenant for fighting the pandemic.

More people than expected went for the on-site testing, asconfirmed by the fact that supplies ran out, prompting on-siteclinic staff to give others vouchers for the following day. Therewere 800 leaders representing more than 150 churches and 39countries at the 2003 Assembly in Younde, between 22-27November.

"As far as we are concerned, this is war," said Rev Dr MvumeDandala, AACC General Secretary and leader of South Africa'sMethodists. "We declare unequivocally that HIV/AIDS is not the willof God for Africa. The Church must resist a tendency by thepharmaceutical companies to see Africa as an open market forHIV/AIDS drugs because of the virus, prevalence on the continent,"he said. He attributed Africa's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS mainly topoverty. 

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