By ELIZABETH MIAE
A STUDY has found that certain churches are discouraging their members who are living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) from taking their anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.
These churches are instead encouraging the PLWHA to expect “spiritual healing” from God.
The study conducted by Lily Lesley Pyrambone titled “The experience of people living with HIV in the National Capital District” was carried out in 2008 as part of her master in public health thesis.
The study was presented during the National Research Institute’s HIV seminar last Friday.
According to the PLWHA whom Mrs Pyrambone interviewed, they pointed out that while the churches were their only hope to turn to when discriminated and stigmatised, churches also have a negative impact on PLWHA in that, they discourage them from taking ARV drugs.
Mrs Pyrambone related the case of a PLWHA who was on the treatment but stopped when she joined a certain church that discouraged the ART and she eventually became very sick.
She returned to the clinic and was put back on the treatment.
Mrs Pyrambone asked some of her interviewees why they had chosen to go to this particular church and they said that some of their friends who had joined the church were healed.
This issue has indicated the need for every health worker to be properly trained and educated on HIV/AIDS in counselling, testing, care, support and treatment in order to approach and deal appropriately when coming into first contact with a person diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
Some of the PLWHA also complained about the attitude of health workers towards them at the clinics and even in the hospital wards as “very bad and not helpful”.
A health worker at the seminar then raised concern that there was a need for all health workers to be properly trained on HIV/AIDS.
She said the reason for their bad attitude as reported in the study was due to the fact that some of the workers did not know much about HIV/AIDS and how to deal with the patients when come into contact.
“The health workers were just put in the clinics and wards to work,” she added.
An example given in the study was the breach of confidentiality between a health worker and a client when the health worker revealed the client’s HIV status to the client’s family after being diagnosed.
Mrs Pyrambone recommended in her study that health training institutions include HIV/AIDS in their curriculum and training to all health workers to prepare them for such situaions before they go out in the fields.
The study was conducted in six different sites in the three NCD electorates and involved 381 interviewees.