|[Published: Tuesday October 18 2011]
HIV prayer cure claims three lives
London, 18 Oct – (ANA) - At least three people in London with HIV have died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.
The women died after attending churches in London where they were encouraged to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs in the belief that God would heal them, their friends and a leading HIV doctor said.
Responding to the BBC London investigation, Lord Fowler, the former health minister responsible for the famous Aids awareness campaign of the 1980s, condemned the practice.
"It's just wrong, bad advice that should be confronted," said the Tory peer, who chaired last month's House of Lords committee into HIV.
Jane Iwu, 48, from Newham, east London, described one case, saying: "I know of a friend who had been to a pastor. She told her to stop taking her medication - that God is a healer and has healed her."
"This lady believed it. She stopped taking her medication. She passed away," said Ms Iwu, who has HIV herself. Meanwhile, the director of a leading HIV research centre in east London said she had dealt with a separate case in which a person with HIV died as a result of advice from a pastor. "I've only seen that once, but it has happened," said Prof Jane Anderson, director of the Centre for the Study of Sexual Health and HIV, in Hackney.
"We see patients quite often who will come having expressed the belief that if they pray frequently enough, their HIV will somehow be cured," she added.
"We have seen people who choose not to take the tablets at all so sometimes die." Lord Fowler condemned pastors giving this advice, saying: "It's dangerous to the public and dangerous in terms of public health."
"It's irresponsible," he said, suggesting pastors should instead "come off the air on it, look at things much more seriously, and not give this completely wrong advice to the public". HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) says a growing number of London churches have been telling people the power of prayer will "cure" their infections. "This is happening through a number of churches. We're hearing about more cases of this," AHPN chief Francis Kaikumba said. AHPN said it believed the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), which has UK headquarters in Southwark, south London, may be involved in such practices.The church is headed by Pastor T B Joshua, Nigeria's third richest clergyman, according to a recent Forbes rich list. (ANA)
FA/ANA/18 October 2011-----------