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16.05.05 07:20 Age: 7 yrs

AIDS stigma kills, religious leaders are told

HIV-positive priest rues churches' ‘absolute fixation with sex'

ATHENS (ENI) — An Anglican priest who leads a network of African religious leaders who have tested positive for HIV has urged churches to end the "absolute fixation with sex" that stigmatizes those who live with the virus. 

For many church leaders "AIDS equals sex, equals sin, equals death," said the Rev. Johannes Petrus (Japé) Heath, coordinator of the African Network of Religious Leaders living with or personally affected by HIV/AIDS (ANERELA+). That attitude, he said, hampers efforts to check the spread of the pandemic.

"The stigma keeps people from going to get tested (for HIV)," Heath told journalists covering the World Council of Churches meeting here. "The stigma keeps them from knowing their status."