Tag Archives: AHPN

Prayer is good, prayer and medication is better!

Pastor Elizabeth was told that prayer was all she needed to fight HIV, she stopped taking her medication after faith leaders insisted she cease taking anti-HIV and life saving drugs.  She wrestled with the decision and is now an advocate for taking medication.  She says “If you are sick, and someone tells you not to take medication, they are misleading you.  Pastor Elizabeth realises this and wishes to share that HIV is simply an illness which requires medication.

At the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the early eighties, some faith leaders preached that only ‘sinners’ contracted the virus, advising that the only solution for those living with HIV was to pray hard for forgiveness. While many faith leaders have since realised that HIV is simply a virus that can affect anyone, unfortunately some haven’t. In fact, a few have gone even further, telling those in their congregations who are living with HIV to stop taking their Antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) and instead concentrate on praying because that’s the only way they will experience emotional and physical healing.

Whether praying to be healed from HIV is being preached in select churches, or some church-goers living with HIV are misinterpreting what their faith leaders are telling them, a number of HIV positive people have died as a result of stopping their HIV medication. What remains unclear is how many people are being converted to this way of thinking. Is this a big problem warranting a global intervention, or are we making a mountain out of a molehill? I personally don’t know the definitive answers to these questions, but what I can say is that where prayer and HIV healing are concerned, I have witnessed and have heard of some pretty bizarre behaviour among people living with HIV, particularly within African communities in the UK and in some parts of Africa.

It was reported in October 2011 that blind faith in prayer claimed the lives of three people who were HIV positive.  At least three people in London with HIV died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.

The women died after attending churches in London where they were encouraged to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs in the belief that God would heal them, their friends and a leading HIV doctor said.

HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) says a growing number of London churches have been telling people the power of prayer will “cure” their infections.

“This is happening through a number of churches. We’re hearing about more cases of this,” AHPN chief Francis Kaikumba said.

Whether you believe in religion or not, there is absolutely nothing wrong with prayer to help you with HIV, however there is everything wrong with discontinuing medication in favour of prayer.  Take time to consider the different mechanises to combat HIV.  Prayer may help the soul and medication will help the body.  There are a lot of people of all faiths in within research and development who would hope you look after your body too.

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Faith leaders across England in ‘HIV healing’ claims

Synagogue Church Of All Nations website shows videos of people it claims have been “cured”

Dangerous cases of faith leaders who tell people with HIV to stop taking their life-saving drugs have been identified by African-led community groups in a number of locations across England.

Seven groups said there were instances of people being told by faith leaders they had been “healed” through prayer – and then pressured to stop taking antiretroviral medication, according to the charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN).

Cases were reported to have taken place in Finsbury Park, Tottenham, and Woolwich, in London, as well as in Manchester, Leeds and at a number of churches across the North West.

Last year, BBC London identified three people with HIV who died after they stopped taking antiretroviral drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.

AHPN, which tackles health inequalities for Africans living in the UK, called on the government to do more to prevent faith leaders encouraging people with HIV to stop taking their drugs.

“The government, the department of health, and local authorities are not doing enough to respond to this,” said Jacqueline Stevenson, AHPN’s head of policy.

Multiple cases
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Prayer is not a substitute for HIV treatment and we would be very concerned if people are not taking their medication on the advice of faith leaders.”

AHPN said the cases reported to it by community groups showed:

Most respondents were aware of more than one case of faith healing claims and pressure to stop taking medication. One member was aware of five cases
Many followers believed the testimony of pastors who claimed they could heal them
The majority of cases reported involved Evangelical or Pentecostal Christian pastors
In some cases treatment has been restarted, in others the health and mental health of clients has declined.
Although community groups said they were aware of multiple cases, the members who reported being exposed to faith healers were unwilling to name the churches involved.

AHPN’s Ms Stevenson said: “People were reluctant to name the churches and pastors.”

Cancer ‘cure’

Synagogue Church Of All Nations says: “Never a disease God cannot cure.”

Last year AHPN said it believed the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), which has UK headquarters in Southwark, south London, may be one of those involved in such practices.

The church is headed by Pastor T B Joshua, who the Forbes richlist named as Nigeria’s third richest clergyman.

SCOAN’s website, which was set up in Lagos, Nigeria, now shows videos of people the church claims have been “cured” of HIV through prayer.

One video shows a woman Agnes Agnote visiting the church in Nigeria saying: “I am HIV positive. I went to the hospital and they confirmed it was HIV/Aids.”

The video then shows Pastor Joshua blessing her, saying “everyone is healed”.

It goes on to show Ms Agnote apparently showing a more recent medical report, with a narrator saying, “it clearly states that Agnes tested negative to HIV Aids”.

Videos on the website also depict people being cured of “cancers” and “disabilities”.

‘Anointing sticker’ tour
The church’s British website now gives accounts of people reporting to be healed from conditions including arthritis and a lung blood clot after being a sprayed with “anointing water” by SCOAN in the UK.

It promotes a monthly “anointing water prayer line” in London “for any health issues” and advertises an “anointing sticker” tour of the UK and Ireland, which begins on Monday.

Last year, when asked by the BBC if it claimed its pastors could cure HIV, SCOAN responded: “We are not the healer. God is the healer. Never a sickness God cannot heal. Never a disease God cannot cure.”

But it added: “We don’t ask people to stop taking medication. Doctors treat – God heals.”

Ms Stevenson warned: “Often faith groups and churches spring up and nobody really knows they are there or what they are doing.”

“There needs to be investment in taking some action at national and local levels to address this issue.”

She added that AHPN wanted to see faith groups and churches “having the same responsibility in terms of safeguarding and respecting individuals as any other organisation would be expected to have”.

But AHPN warned that criminal sanctions would not be an appropriate solution and would risk “pushing the problem underground”.

“We call for local authorities to work with faith groups and ensure these negative messages are not put out.”

The Department of Communities and Local Government refused to respond to these comments.

But the Department of Health said faith organisations “can make a positive contribution to raising awareness of HIV” by “highlighting the benefits of testing and effective antiretroviral treatment”.

Original article By Andy Dangerfield
BBC News, London

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Charities criticise London ‘failing’ HIV prevention programme

Charities have criticised the way HIV services in London are commissioned following the release of a report which highlights “significant management failings” and a “lack of strategy”.

The report said there was "an urgent need to address HIV prevention in London"

The Pan London HIV Prevention Programme (PLHPP) Needs Assessment report highlights “failings” of the pan London HIV commissioning group, which spends £2.3m a year.

HIV treatment in London costs £500m with almost 30,000 people accessing care and that number rising by 5% annually.  The PLHPP provides prevention work targeting gay men and African communities and treatment information for people with HIV.

HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) chief Francis Kaikumba said he was “shocked, annoyed and heads need to roll” in light of the report.  Meanwhile, Caspar Thomson, director of the National Aids Manual, which provides information on HIV and Aids, said: “The whole process is moving too slowly. There’s an urgent need to address HIV prevention in London.”

But Mark Creelman, director of strategy at Inner North West London Primary Care Trusts (INWL PCTs), which leads the pan London HIV commissioning group, said: “We are working to ensure the programme has the right leadership and the right governance in place to be as effective as possible.”
‘Crisis level’

The needs assessment report was prepared by the INWL PCTs on behalf of the Pan London HIV commissioning group and will be used to guide future commissioning intentions.

It identified “significant failings with the management of the programme” and said “providers have fallen far short of their activity targets”.


  •     Almost 30,000 people with HIV accessing care in London
  •     About 26% of Londoners affected with HIV remain undiagnosed
  •     People diagnosed with HIV rising by 5% annually
  •     46% of those diagnosed in London are men who have sex with men
  •     Black Africans make up 5.5% of London population but 32% of those newly diagnosed with HIV
  •     Treatment costs are £500m per year.

Failings identified by the report included “a lack of clarity over leadership” and “inconsistent direction from commissioners”.  The programme “appears to have evolved over time without any explicit strategic direction”, the report said.

Mr Thomson responded to the report saying: “Over the course of the years of the programme, I think the strategic direction was lost.”

Mr Kaikumba said: “HIV prevention work in London is at an all-time crisis level. Where is the accountability? Why has there been a lack of leadership?” he asked.

“Heads need to roll in terms of what the PLHPP is going to do about it.”

But Mr Creelman said: “The basis for the needs assessment was to give us a more strategic direction.

“Across commissioning and providers, we have a joint responsibility to ensure we’re spending taxpayers’ money effectively.”  Francis Kaikumba, head of the AHPN AHPN chief Francis Kaikumba says the proportion of money going towards Black Africans is “poor”

The report highlights the need for an “urgent” exercise “to inform commissioning intentions”.  Another report, entitled PLHPP Final Evaluation Report, published last February, showed of 17 projects commissioned, only two “merited continued commissioning”.

A total of 11 were said to “merit no further investment” while four needed “fundamental restructuring”.  Nevertheless, these projects all continue to receive funding through the programme, nearly a year after the report was published.

Mr Thomson stressed the need for urgent action, saying: “Organisations are under threat because of the delays and if some of them go a huge amount of knowledge and expertise will be lost.”

But Mr Creelman said: “The needs assessment is very much the start of the process.  We understand the urgency but we wanted to make absolutely sure within the evidence that has been collected, that organisations look at the needs assessment.”

Contributors to the report now have until 6 February to comment further, before new commissioning intentions are “developed”.

The needs assessment report also highlighted that the PLHPP spends £320,000 per year on the black African community, compared with £1.3m on “men who have sex with men”.

“Spend targeted at the black African population appears disproportionately low” the report said.

Mr Kaikumba said: “The amount of money that goes towards Black African work is ridiculous – it’s really poor.  We’re shocked and annoyed how few pennies are being spent to support black Africans with HIV,” he said.

But Mr Creelman said: “The needs assessment supports that Black African work is much better served by being done at a local level.  Lots of PCTs have Black African HIV prevention programmes and those programmes were set up to address their local needs.”

Mr Kaikumba said the report showed: “We’re spending such a tiny amount on prevention.”  Can we get away with spending so little?” he asked.

But Mr Creelman stressed: “This is a programme within a wider prevention portfolio. The local PCTs also fund localised services”.  Meanwhile, with 26% of Londoners affected with HIV remaining undiagnosed, there appear to be no plans to reduce the amount spent on HIV prevention.

“Chief executives are absolutely committed to not taking any money out of prevention in this programme,” Mr Creelman said.

Original Article By Andy Dangerfield at BBC News

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