The Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), a regional coordinating body, joined the rest of the world to mark World AIDS Day with her ecumenical and development partners.
The event, which was organized by CAPA regional partners including the Ecumenical HIV/AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA), Christian Aid Africa Office (CA), All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the UN Millennium Development Campaign, Africa office, took place at the All African Conference of Churches building at Westland, Waiyaki Way, in Nairobi, Kenya.
A church service was held on November 27 at the AACC chapel, which welcomed different partners and friends. During the service the CAPA HIV/AIDS chairman, Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya, delivered the sermon. He stated that all are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, lamenting the enormity of the pandemic's impact in African homes, Churches and communities.
He condemned all acts of stigma and discrimination directed to people living with HIV/AIDS and challenged donors and implementing partners to ensure that resources meant for addressing the pandemic are appropriately utilized and channeled through the right authority.
In a painful note, he epitomized some challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS, to include inadequate ARVs, nutrition, counseling and care. Those resources appropriated for the management of people who are infected with the virus are occasionally diversified for other use, he explained, like paying huge salaries to the staff, thereby leaving severe socio-economic effects. "Shame on us all" who are engaged in such unkind behavior, he said.
He also condemned the indiscriminate distribution of condoms in communities, noting that it may not help in containing the pandemic. Families, community, churches and the government should seek to improve and address issues of behavioral change and morality, he added, admitting that condoms should be prescribed and used by discordant couples, partners who are both infected and for child spacing within the context of marriage only.
Nzimbi agreed that youth and other at-risk groups should be given adequate and correct education on HIV/AIDS as a way of empowering and preventing them from contracting the infection.
He challenged communities and churches to develop programs that are self-sustaining, reduce poverty and improve the health of women and children. He concluded his message with a message from John 3:16, challenging all to show a compassionate and caring environment to their fellow brethren who are living with HIV and AIDS.
He was supported by other key speakers at the services, including the general secretary of the AACC and heads of regional CAPA partners.
A covenant document on HIV/AIDS developed by AACC was handed to him to ensure it is preached in all churches of Africa. There are ten covenant areas that were articulated: Life and HIV/AIDS Prevention; Love and HIV/AIDS Care; Treatment and HIV/AIDS Drugs; Compassion, HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination; Poverty and HIV/AIDS; Gender Inequalities; Children and HIV/AIDS; Church, PLWAs and HIV/AIDS; Human Sexuality and HIV/AIDS; Justice and HIV/AIDS.
At the end of the service, the CAPA HIV/AIDS board chairman led the intercessory prayers sessions.
A marching event was held around the AACC building in solidarity for people living and affected by AIDS and to educate the community of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and stigma and discrimination.
Leaflets, poster and red ribbons were distributed.
Two CAPA staff actively participated in the two events: HIV/AIDS program coordinator, Emmanuel Olatunji, and Elizabeth Gichovi, communication officer.
Details of the order of service can be found here.