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30.01.2005 Regional News

Membership of church does not automatically protect people from HIV

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Kumasi, Jan. 30, GNA-A Medical Practitioner has stated that being a member of a church or any religious organisation does not automatically make such persons immune to HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Thomas Agyarko-Poku, Co-ordinator of the West Africa project to combat AIDS, said the only sure guarantee for members of religious organisations to protect themselves against HIV is to live morally upright lives and also for them to live by the tenets of their faith. Dr. Agyarko-Poku made the statement at the close of the first Provincial HIV/AIDS co-ordinators workshop for catholic priests in Kumasi recently.

The 37 participants, made up mainly of catholic priests, sisters, catholic brothers, women and the youth, were drawn from the kumasi catholic Arch province.

The three-day workshop was organised by the Kumasi catholic Ecclesiatical province in conjunction with the Centre for Human Development (CEHUD) of the catholic secretariat, and sponsored by the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC).

Dr. Agyako-Poku observed that religious organisations had divergent people comprising their congregations, who also have a lot of confidence and believe in whatever their pastors convey to them.

Dr. Agyarko-Poku said for this matter, priests and pastors could become a very vital and useful channel for conveyance of messages on HIV/AIDS to people, while also being a conduit for counselling victims of HIV.

He stressed the need for health institutions to explore such an opportunity by linking up effectively with churches and heads of the various religious organisations in the area of counselling of victims of HIV.

Dr. Agyarko-Poku also stressed the need for churches in particular to devote ample time during every sermon and crusades to enlighten their members more on the dreadful disease, as their contribution towards helping reduce the pandemic in the system.

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