Pat & Suzanne Hurst - Tongo, West Africa, Assemblies of God
Email: pat.hurst@hqmail.agmd.org
 
Challenge: In many parts of Africa, HIV/AIDS is considered a curse, that the people who have it "deserve" it. This is even evident in the church where it is considered a "sinners disease." The stimatization associated with HIV is so strong that most people just don't want to know if they're infected. And the few that do know, go to great lengths to hide it, keeping this difficult secret to themselves, not doing things that could help them to prolong their lives and continuing to spread the virus.
Response: The Communion Fraternelle network (church based HIV response groups) are working on educating their communities and churches about the realities of HIV/AIDS. Through skits and open forum times of discussion, churches and communities are encouraged to view HIV/AIDS as any other illness and those infected as human beings in need of love and attention.
Challenge: Lack of information about HIV/AIDS and the resources available to those who are infected. This lack of information is significant in two ways: first of all, it contributes to the stimatization that people have towards those infected with the HIV as many people are not well educated on the disease. Secondly, for those who are HIV positive, is can be difficult to find solid information on the HIV and to find out what resources are available to them.

 

Response: Suzanne works with the Communion Fraternelle network to help educate them on various aspects of living with HIV/AIDS and on networking with community resources. Then the ComFrat members can use this information when making home visits to those who are HIV positive.
Challenge: Those affected with the HIV often feel depressed, alone and rejected - knowing the attitudes of the community towards HIV/AIDS, they keep the knowledge of their infection to themselves, carrying an extremely heavy burden, all alone.

Children carry heavy responsibilities as they care for sick and dying parents. Many are forced to quit school in an effort to earn more money for the family.

Response: The ComFrat network makes it a priority to visit, encourage and pray with those who are affected by the HIV. By sharing information and resources, making home visits and showing compassion, many people are receiving love, encouragement and hope.

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