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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 August 2006, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Call to boost churches' Aids role
By Jill McGivering
BBC News

Aids patient
Church volunteers provide much-needed Aids care, the report says
The Christian aid agency Tearfund is calling for more recognition and more international funding for Africa's churches in the fight against HIV/Aids.

Its new report, called Faith Untapped, highlights the positive work done by church congregations to support people affected by HIV/Aids.

But it also calls on the churches to change some negative attitudes.

The report puts the value of care carried out by millions of African church volunteers at $23bn (12bn).

It says the army of volunteers provides much-needed care and support both to people who become ill and to HIV/Aids widows and orphans.

Channelling funds

The Tearfund report calls for more global recognition of the contribution the continent's churches of all sizes, styles and denominations are making.

It calls for more international money to be channelled through them.

The report highlights the US approach in supporting faith-based organisations as a response to HIV/Aids.

That is greeted with caution by some analysts who express concern that although some churches are doing positive work, others are contributing to the spread of HIV/Aids by preaching abstinence, rather than safe sex, and fuelling discrimination.

The Tearfund report does say that some attitudes - including opposition to condom use, condemning people who become infected as sinful and the failure to talk openly about sex, need to be addressed.

Veena O'Sullivan, Tearfund's HIV/Aids adviser, admits not all parts of the church are getting it right.

"There is no blanket statement about which group is good and which group isn't. You just have a mixed picture. You just have to go with the ones that are good."

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