National AIDS Council (NAC) has challenged church leaders to play a leading role in the fight against a scourge of escalating new HIV/AIDS infections.

The two-day workshop which took place in Muzarabani — along the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland Central province — recently was attended by the Senator for Muzarabani Constituency, leaders from different faith-based organisations, traditional healers, representatives from Johanne Masowe Sect, councilors and behavior-change facilitators.

Provincial AIDS Coordinator for Mashonaland Central Province of Zimbabwe, David Nyamurera, delivered a key note address and made reference to 1 Samuel 3 verse 10 as he challenged all religious leaders to join in the effort to fight against HIV/AIDS.

“The church should help to fight the pandemic disease and leaders should talk openly about HIV/AIDS in their services. Churches should also help to mobilize and stimulate active male involvement and participation in the programmes such as Voluntary Testing and Counseling (VTC), Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT/PMTCT), Medical Male Circumcision (MC) including HIV/AIDS care and support,” he said.

Pastor Misheck Tsimbo of Pentecostal church ZAOGA also urged other church leaders to take a stand in the struggle to eliminate the pandemic disease.

“As pastors, we must educate followers on AIDS related diseases and also promote positive living among those suffering from HIV/AIDS,” said the pastor.

Gondai Dekeza, an official from Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention and Support Organisation, said engaging religious leaders can help to mobilize people and minimise the prevalence of the deadly diseases.

“We decided to engage churches because we realized that male absenteeism and lack of active involvement remain a major stumbling block in curbing HIV in the country. Hence we believe churches can help to mobilize especially males and also to teach the youths and discuss openly HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Apostolic Faith Mission, ZAOGA, Johanne Masowe and Christian Fellowship Ministries were among the faith-based organizations that attended the workshop.

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