Youth Aspire Development Trust (YADT) has challenged church leaders to play a leading role in the fight against the scourge of new HIV and AIDS infections.
In a telephone interview YADT director Wesley Nyabaya, said parents are dying, and there are growing numbers of orphans and desperately poor families due to the pandemic.
Churches and faith-based organizations have a key role to play in the fight and response against HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe as many communities; HIV is increasing its deadly toll.
The director said engaging religious leaders can help to mobilize people and minimize the prevalence of the deadly diseases.
Nyabaya added pastors and lay leaders are stretched to breaking point by the increased burden of funerals, the support of dying people and their families, the care of orphans and those who look after them, and their efforts to provide a ministry to the sick.
“The church should help to fight the pandemic disease and leaders should talk openly about HIV and AIDS in their services. Church should also help to mobilize and stimulate active male involvement and participation in the programmes such as voluntary Testing and Counseling (VTC), Prevention of parent to Child Transmission (PMTCT), Medical Male Circumcision (MC) including HIV and AIDS care and support.
“If churches are to engage effectively with local, regional and international responses to the epidemic, then issues of HIV, drug abuse and child sexual abusehave to be confronted, not just at the level of church organization and practice, but also by Christian system itself at the level of what is taught in seminaries, academic and theologians lecture.
“As part of its strategy for meeting this need, Youth Aspire Development Trustorganized a church leaders dialogue for church leaders from different Christiangroups in Chitungwiza”, explained Nyabaya.
Nyabaya highlighted that YADT held two dialogues at Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) Church in Chitungwiza which had two primary objectives to sharpen the response to HIV- and AIDS-related stigma among church leaders and to develop a framework that might provide a useful basis for churches reflection in the contexts of community challenges and the role of the church in the fight against HIV, drug abuse and child sexual abuse issues.
“We decide to engage churches because we realised that male absenteeism and lack of active involvement remain a major stumbling block in curbing HIV in the country. Hence we believe churches can help to mobilize especially males and also to teach the youths and discuss openly HIV and AIDS,” He said.