Malawi AIDS problem could be helped with church involvement

By October 3, 2011

Malawi (MNN) — Malawi's most frequent international headlines
have included protests for more fuel and better foreign exchange. The "warm
heart of Africa" is fed up with the government's lack of movement and has
caught international eyes by speaking up about their concerns.

These political concerns, however, have overshadowed
the ongoing needs in Malawi. For instance, 11% of Malawians are infected
with HIV/AIDS, ranking the nation ninth in the world for HIV/AIDS rates.  

HCJB Global Hands has healthcare professionals working at the Partners in Hope (PIH) Medical Center in Malawi.
 With a simple prick of the finger and some testing, the team is able to detect
whether or not someone is infected. If someone's results are positive, the
news is shared by trained counselors.

More and more, HCJB has been trying to do these tests
not just at the clinic, but in churches. AIDS still carries a significant
stigma with it in Malawi, and most people go to church on Sundays. Churches can
be the worst places to induce the stigma, and yet, HCJB believes, it is also
the perfect place to knock down those negative perceptions.

Church involvement in Malawi's AIDS crisis is mixed,
with many churches ignoring the issue. Other church leaders even discourage
patients from taking their medicine or seeking care, to demonstrate what they
deem as a stronger faith. Stopping antiretroviral drugs, however, can result in
viral resistance.

The HCJB team hopes to join efforts with the Church of
Central Africa-Presbyterian in community health evangelism. This would
integrate community development and healthcare with the Gospel.

HCJB already has a good reputation around Malawi, and people
are coming to know the Lord through their work. Pray that this new community
program would be provided with all it needs to not only meet a serious physical
need, but to meet a spiritual need as well.


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