11 June 2002

Africa: Churches Asked to Speak Up On HIV/Aids

Over 120 Pan African church leaders meeting in Nairobi yesterday strongly reaffirmed their opposition to the use of condoms in the war against Aids.

The leaders, at the same time, admitted that the church in Africa had done very little to support Governments in combating the scourge.

They said despite their extensive grassroots network, central spiritual position and high moral standing within the communities, they had failed to respond effectively to Aids.

Speakers blamed the church leadership for having dragged their feet in responding to the disease. Many of the churches present admitted to having no official policy or documents on how to react against the pandemic.

UN special envoy of the UN Secretary General on HIV in Africa Stephen Lewis said the official voice of the religious community on the scourge has been muted.

He challenged religious leaders to marshall their support for the struggle against the disease as the political will early shown by governments had started waning. Many governments had stopped contributing money for the cause of Aids.

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