From the desk of the General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana1 December 2021
Today, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) joins the rest of the world in observing World AIDS Day 2021, under the global theme: End inequalities. End AIDS.
We live in a region of the world that has always had a high infection rate of HIV, and to this day, the effects of HIV on our society cannot be ignored. The prevalence of HIV in our country has altered the fabric of our society. We have witnessed many tragedies attributable to HIV and AIDS, and while we have turned the corner in treatment accessibility and education, inequalities still exist that continue to sustain the kind of environment in which HIV can thrive. While access to treatment has been vastly improved, the stigma of HIV and AIDS remains, with many who still live in silence and a sense of shame.
Economic imbalances have a bearing on the rate of HIV infections, with multi-layered social challenges pointing to this, such as poverty lifestyles, the high rates of teenage pregnancy, the lack of quality education and high levels of unemployment. If we are to end inequalities and end AIDS, we need to start by addressing these imbalances.
Former Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is reported to have made the claim that through prayer he occasioned the miracle of healing for two people from the AIDS condition. This report may encourage many living with AIDS to abandon their daily treatment in the hope of a miracle from a pastor on offer. We deeply believe that there is power in prayer, and that through prayer, miracles can be manifested. Prayer comforts and engenders hope. Prayer also inspires scientific research for treatment. Today we have more user friendly ARVs, and as we pray, tomorrow we may have an HIV vaccine.
It would, however, be misleading to prescribe prayer alone as a public health solution. Miracles when they happen, are a sign of God’s power, but are never a general solution to human health problems. Even Jesus did not heal all the lepers of his day in Judea and Samaria.
Major scientific advancements that have been made in HIV and AIDS research in South Africa, which stem from God-given skills and talents, and we, as the SACC, acknowledge and support the advancement of HIV and AIDS research and treatments. Let prayer augment the treatment regiment, and not replace it.
In conclusion, let us take a moment to remember those who have succumbed to AIDS. We honour the memory of their lives – choosing to remember how they lived, and not how or why they died; and we extend a prayer of comfort for their loved ones, who remain in grief over their loss.
May their souls rest in eternal peace.
—ENDS—Media enquiries:Khuthalani KhumaloSACC Communications ConsultantSouth African Council of ChurchesTel: 084 074 1285 | Email: email@example.com