A non-governmental organization (NGO) in Lilongwe has accused religious leaders of fueling the spread of the HIV pandemic.
The NGO, Centre for Youth Development and Social Empowerment (CYDSE), which is working in Chief Chimutu’s area in the district has disclosed that the religious leaders advise church member to stop using condoms.
CYDSE Executive Director, Naphtale Chizongo said young people in the area do not access condoms since their religious leaders discourage them from using the rubbers, telling the youth that it is only Jesus who can protect them.
Chizongo also said his organisation has observed that other youth who were on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) have stopped taking their drugs upon receiving advice from their church leaders.
In view of this, he said his NGO with support from the Southern African AIDS Trust (SAAT) is engaging both religious and traditional leaders by equipping them with knowledge on their role in the fight against HIV.
According to Chizongo, traditional leaders are also being taken on board as there are some cultural practices taking place in the area which are contributing to further spread of HIV.
He cited traditional dances such as gule wamkulu which are sometimes performed during the night as some of the cultural practices fueling the spread of HIV.
He said: “From the interface meetings we have been conducting, the leaders now seem to understand what role they can play in the fight.”