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PRI’s ‘The World’ Examines Role Of Churches In Fight Against HIV In Swaziland

PRI’s “The World” examines the role of churches in the fight against HIV in Swaziland. The news service highlights several church-run HIV programs, writing, “Churches have long played an important role in caring for the sick, but in terms of HIV prevention they’ve been at odds with the public health community. It has often come down to one issue: until recently, Swazi church leaders publicly rejected the use of condoms by their congregants. But now you hear many comments that suggest a change in thinking.”

“Public health advocates in Swaziland are pleased to see churches promoting medical education like this, but they also see downsides … [including] their unwillingness to reach out to men who have sex with men,” PRI writes. However, “Churches that are willing to partner with the public health sector could bridge th[e] gulf [between religious and non-religious sectors], and that could be important in Swaziland’s fight against HIV,” the news service says, adding, “There is a surge in interest in partnerships between the two groups. There’s also a tension: neither side expects to see eye-to-eye on everything. On this, however, they do agree: the scale of the HIV crisis demands the effort” (Gallafent, 3/30).