CHURCH LEADERS should consider being tested for HIV to help banish the stigma attached to testing, an expert at UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS) has said in advance of World AIDS Day next Monday.
A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman, responding on Wednesday, said that African bishops had already had themselves tested as an example to others, and that the Archbishop of Canterbury believed that church leaders should take a lead in educating people about the issues.
In part of a statement expected on Monday, Dr Williams will say: “Recognizing that people living with HIV is us not them, whether its leaders and congregations, congregations and ‘outsiders’, it’s us. It’s all of our business . . . church leaders and church congregations taking responsibilities for educating the wider public.”
Sally Smith, the Geneva-based UNAIDS partnership adviser who called for the testing, said: “This is an important way for religious and community leaders to break down the stigma often associated with HIV and testing.”
Everyone should know their HIV status, to make informed health decisions, she said in an interview published in full on the Church Times website today.