ORGANISATIONS representing people living with HIV/Aids have accused Pentecostal churches and some apostolic sects of misleading their members into ditching life-prolonging medication for “anointing oils- holy water” and healing prayers.
Zimbabwe National Network for People Living positive with HIV/Aids, ZNNP+ national coordinator Mceni Sibanda told a senatorial thematic committee on HIV/Aids that most “Pentecostal churches and apostolic sects” were discouraging their members from taking Anti-retroviral drugs saying they would be healed by holy water.
“The other problem relates to traditional healers and religious leaders, especially the Pentecostal and the apostolic sects.
“We have seen quite a number of people living with HIV leaving their medication exposing themselves to opportunistic infections in the name of holy water and anointing oils,” Sibanda said.
The Senate committee chaired by MDC-T senator, Lillian Timveous, summoned the group to explain the challenges faced by people living with HIV/Aids and how lawmakers could assist them.
Due to the current economic challenges, struggling Zimbabweans have resorted to religion for salvation and prophets performing supposed miracles have exploited their desperation.
Some prophets claim to have powers to heal any ailment including HIV/AIDS which has affected over 1.2 million Zimbabweans, most currently on life-prolonging ARV therapies.
ZNNP+ said most of those taking the drugs are still being stigmatised for being infected by the virus – a development which contributes to most young adults shunning medication while some default on their uptake of the drugs.
Sibanda said some traditional healers were advising their clients to stop taking the anti-retro treatment for herbs which exposed already weakened immune systems to attacks by various infections.
Health minister David Parirenyatwa, recently warned traditional and faith healers against misleading people by claiming that they had powers to heal HIV.