Uganda: Teens With HIV Prefer Religion to ARVs
October 25, 2010
Observers say some HIV-positive Ugandan teenagers are abandoning their antiretroviral treatment, believing religion can cure them of the virus.
Ssuna said the practice is more common among Pentecostal churches, noting that while teens often make the decision to stop treatment on their own, peer pressure typically is involved, too.
By the time the youths return to treatment, it may be too late. A 2007 study by Makerere University's Infectious Disease Institute found that of 558 respondents undergoing HIV treatment, 1.2 percent had discontinued care because they believed they had been spiritually healed. While four out of the six eventually restarted their ARVs, three required more expensive, second-line salvage treatment.
Mary Kiwanuka, who has an HIV-positive teenage daughter, said television evangelists exert considerable influence. "These children are exposed to too much television, which shows people being healed," she said.
Bishop Dunstan Bukenya of Mityana advised HIV-positive believers to continue their ARV therapy, even as they pray for healing.
New Vision (Kampala)
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