Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Warning - Is your church a health hazard?

From Nasfund Newsletter


“Deciding between competing rights and balancing rights with responsibilities is difficult and challenging, no more than in relation to freedom of religion, expression and belief. As common sense suggests, not all rights are absolute and there are occasions when particular rights have to be qualified or curtailed. Freedom of expression does not give one the licence to shout ‘fire’ in a crowed cinema” Kevin Donnelly - Author.

Over the last few years a small number of church groups have been advocating that faith alone can cure or keep an HIV positive person alive. Unfortunately, a faith based approach alone does not have evidentiary support in trying to keep HIV positive people healthy. Sadly, there are too many instances of certain faith based groups who negatively influence a decision by a person with HIV to not use Anti Retroviral (ART) drugs.

This includes advocating that those already on ART, be taken off the life supporting drugs in favor of prayer and faith.

Anti Retroviral Treatment is the only proven long term combination therapy that keeps HIV positive people healthy and alive.

When certain faith based groups advocate for HIV positive people to go off ART, they are breaching the HAMP Act - they are playing with peoples lives and they are acting outside the laws of Papua New Guinea.

Disrupting ART with a patient (missing days or months of taking ART), renders long term treatment through ART ineffective.

Advocating HIV positive people not to take ART is the surest way to shorten their lives.

“I have witnessed it time and time again, when HIV positives are brought back to strong health with ART drugs only to be taken off them by a religious leader and within a short time frame, death occurs”. – Senior Catholic nun on what has been occurring in some faith based groups.

While we all support the right of people to have faith, we equally support ART treatment for those who have HIV.

Faith and anti retroviral drugs for HIV positive people go hand in hand – they are not mutually exclusive.

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