Religious leaders in the country have been asked to encourage church members living with HIV to take antiretroviral (ARV) drugs.
Christian Health Association of Malawi (CHAM) made the remarks at a meeting the organisation conducted with Christian and Muslim leaders.
Speaking with reporters, CHAM acting Executive Director Dr Titha Dzowela said the aim of the symposium was to inform the religious leaders about new developments in the HIV and AIDS sector and how best they can work on issues of treatment, faith healing and stigma in Malawi.
“Faith leaders have a big role to play by ensuring that they are accepting the reality and providing needed information to their members by preaching and encouraging them to continue taking ARV drugs as prescribed by medical personnel,” he said.
Speaking during the meeting, Muslim Association of Malawi General Secretary Alihaj Twaibu Lawe encouraged Malawians including those living with HIV to follow spiritual guidance and continue taking medication as per advised by hospital personnel.
Lawe added that as Muslims they take a leading role in the fight against the disease by discouraging behavior that might lead to spread of HIV.
Commenting on the same, Director for Department of HIV/AIDS in the Ministry of Health and Population, Rose Nyirenda, said the issue of faith healing is negatively affecting people with HIV as many of them shun medication.
She then appealed to faith leaders to join hands with the ministry in supporting the ministry to promote HIV/AIDS preventive behaviors.
The Symposium was held under the theme of “Improving HIV/AIDS care, treatment and support literacy among faith leaders & faith communities to address stigma & faith healing.”