A couple weeks ago, The Herald published the reflections of their “Divine Appointments” columnist Tendai Manzvanzvike on the attitude of the Churches towards HIV/AIDS.
Most fully, in an article entitled “Church shouldn’t stigmatise”, Tendai Manzvanzvike gives an interesting quote from a representative from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr O Mugurungi, “The Church’s capacity to contribute meaningfully towards the national efforts has been severely hampered by the twin challenges of stigma and discrimination. For a long time HIV and AIDS, and other sexually-related infections were interpreted as fulfilling the Biblical curses cited in Deuteronomy 28:27, whereby God invokes incurable diseases to punish an apostate people. This theological rigidity, and ‘holier than thou’ attitude forced many people to suffer in silence; lest they would be labelled sinners, once they disclosed their HIV status.”
However, according to Dr Mugurungi, there have been transformations over the years. “With support from various HIV and AIDS stakeholders, the Church has since made significant progress in confronting the deep-rooted challenges of stigma and discrimination.”
What is your opinion of this observation made by Dr Mugurungi? Did the Church fully and unconditionally open up to those suffering from the sexually-related diseases? Or does stigma and alienation still persist in the Zimbabwean communities of faith?