Figures from the Health Protection Agency state that 2.8 people in every 1000 in the UK have HIV (aged 15-59), whilst the prevalence rate for the same age group among black-African heterosexuals is 56 per 1000. Nearly 1 in 4 Black-African men or women suffering from the infection are unaware that they have HIV.
Charities have claimed that those who are from an African origin and attend church in the UK are afraid to be tested for HIV due to the social stigma attached to the illness and fear of religious condemnation.
ActionPlus Foundation aim to diminish any existence of this fear by actively involving churches with HIV testing. The Founder of the foundation, Pentecostal minister Rev Fred Annin, has said:
“The Bible does not condemn people with HIV as cursed. It shouldn’t be taboo to discuss it in churches. It’s a medical condition and people need medical help. Prayer cannot bring our health back when we ignore medicine. Our vision is a world where people affected by HIV do not experience poverty, ill health and prejudice. We support people living with HIV/AIDS to play a central role in improving their own lives, leading to permanent and lasting solutions.”
ActionPlus Foundation have already launched a similar campaign in Ghana where clinics have been held in churches, schools and nail bars, and now the campaign is being brought to the UK. Last year Living Flames Baptist Church in Walthamstow was the first to open one of the free, church based clinics as part of the Take Action Now campaign during HIV testing week.
This year, the campaign is growing. New clinics have been opened in Mountain Movers Chapel International, in Southwark; Living Flames Baptist Church, in New Cross; Dominion Centre, in Wood Green, and The Church of Pentecost UK, in Dagenham. These clinics involve both trained health specialists and a training programme for church leaders.
National HIV Testing Week is from November 22 to 30 and is organised through HIV Prevention England. This precedes World Aids Day on December 1.
Other charities aiming to increase HIV awareness and testing during this week are the Terrence Higgins Trust, British HIV Association and the Eddystone Trust. It is a great week to increase your HIV knowledge and stay HIV aware. Those who wish to pledge their support can click the following link. www.redribbonpledge.co.uk