HEALTH Advisor to the President and Cabinet Dr Timothy Stamps has blamed the churches for the persistence of HIV related stigma and the country’s failure to effectively deal with the pandemic.
Stamps said by condemning the use of condoms the churches unwittingly encouraged the spread of the HIV virus among their followers.
Stamps said this launching the HIV community monitoring initiative, a brain child of the Zimbabwe HIV and AIDS Activist Union Community Trust (ZHAAUCT) in Murewa last week.
“During my tenure of office we had serious problems with the established churches especially the Catholics and the Seventh Day Adventist. They thought HIV/AIDS was a moral issue whether by intention or by accident. They blamed the victim for what they called bad behaviour,” said the former health minister.
“The Catholic Church would not allow any condom to be on display in the hospital or any surrounding areas, but that was the only method we had at that time of preventing the spreading of the pandemic,” Stamps said.
He added: “The SDA used to publish a series of adverts saying that the cause of AIDS was immoral behaviour. But the fact is quite very different, a lot of men, I would say most of Zimbabwean men, are sexually active.”
“They do things which are both pleasurable and condemned by the church so that was the origin of stigmatization. Sadly some doctors also adopted that line of thinking”.
Stamps said had it not been because of hypocrites, Zimbabwe would not have recorded high prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS.
At one point the country’s HIV prevalence reached 27% and went down drastically to 15% where it currently stands.
The skyrocketing of HIV prevalence in the yester years also resulted in the death of over half a million people during the past 15 or so years.