Religious leaders under the Inter-religious Council of Uganda have spoken out against the strategies to end HIV by 2030. The clerics said that the soft messages and the comfort given to HIV/Aids victims are some of the reasons frustrating efforts to fight and eliminate the scourge.
The clerics raised the issue during an HIV/AIDS dialogue organized by the Inter religious Council of Uganda and Uganda AIDS Commission in Mbarara yesterday. The dialogue was aimed at finding ways how religious leaders can help in spreading the gospel of HIV prevention in their respective churches.
The clerics said that HIV victims have been given much comfort which doesn’t scare away the public from getting involved in acts that can promote the spread of the disease.
“In the earlier onset of the scourge, the messages that were designed and passed on to the public were threatening, people could cry, fear after hearing these messages including the famous drum that ran in the media. But today the messages in drama, plays are very soft, sweet that even those that receive it take it as real life and not threatening,” said Siragi Ntutumo, the district secretary Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, Mbarara.
They also suggested that when people die of AIDS, it should be mentioned at the burila so that those present are frightened. They said that the soft messages are the reason why girls these days fear getting pregnant more than contracting AIDS.
Pastor Evans Matsiko of Seventh Day Adventist church said the scourge has been given a sweet face where even the victims that have seen the scourge being equated to other simple diseases like headache and flue.
“You hear people saying contracting HIV is like getting cough, headache or flue, can this message scare a young person. These are the sweet messages now out there in public, we need to go back and show HIV/Aids the original brand that would threaten and scare people,” said Pastor Evans.
Dr.Eddie Nkooyo from Uganda AIDS Commission acknowledged the clerics’ arguments and said that it was true they need to go back and bring in the original messages that depicted the scourge as hell and threatening. He, however, revealed that so far 76 people die every day whereas five people get infected with HIV per hour in Uganda according to the survey report done in 2016.
“Most of the people who get infected are between the age of 15-25, so we call upon religious leaders to spread the right message as far as prevention of this scourge is concerned, but not misleading the public with fake messages of faith healing, if the virus has entered your body it cannot leave it rather get suppressed when you are introduced to ARVS and reduces the chances of spreading it to another person.” Said Nkooyo.