From: BBC News
Dangerous cases of faith leaders who tell people with HIV to stop taking their life-saving drugs have been identified by African-led community groups in a number of locations across England.
Seven groups said there were instances of people being told by faith leaders they had been “healed” through prayer – and then pressured to stop taking antiretroviral medication, according to the charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN). Last year AHPN said it believed the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), which has UK headquarters in Southwark, south London, may be one of those involved in such practices.
Cases were reported to have taken place in Finsbury Park, Tottenham, and Woolwich, in London, as well as in Manchester, Leeds and at a number of churches across the North West.
Last year, BBC London identified three people with HIV who died after they stopped taking antiretroviral drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.
AHPN, which tackles health inequalities for Africans living in the UK, called on the government to do more to prevent faith leaders encouraging people with HIV to stop taking their drugs.
“The government, the department of health, and local authorities are not doing enough to respond to this,” said Jacqueline Stevenson, AHPN’s head of policy.
The Department of Communities and Local Government refused to respond to these comments. However there must surely come a point, preferably before people have died, where government agencies intervene even if they fear offending someone on the basis of their faith?