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CAMPAIGN AGAINST HIV/AIDS IN CHURCHES IN AFRICA

There seemed to be a general perception in Africa that the HIV/AIDS menace is only limited to certain classes of the Society like sex workers, homeless folks, mobile workers, such as commercial drivers, taxi drivers and loaders, etc.

This wrong and potentially catastrophic perception has embedded itself deeply into some sections of society and institutions like churches, which incidentally possess a large congregation of followers and holds the ability to influence the masses who are the highest risk group, i.e. The physically and sexually active groups of society.

Most of these Organizations are actually propagating these misconceptions; and  are preaching abstinence, at the expense of prevention, which we all know, is the ideal concept, but not practical and realistic.

Research has clearly shown that commercial sex workers count among their best clients, some affluent and perceptibly decent people in society. A recent case in point was the recent breakdown and confession of a woman infected with HIV/AIDS on PEACE FM, a popular Accra based Radio Station, who claimed to have had unprotected sex with and possibly infected scores of men including Government Ministers, students, Pastors, entertainers and other upper class society people.  These classes of people are what you are most likely to find in churches on any given day.

The purpose of the ‘Heart Relief Church Education Initiative’ is to correct these misconceptions that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a disease of the underclass, and is limited to only certain groups/class of the society.

It is the duty of the church to teach about every aspect of family life.  Evil does not come from sex, but from the misuses of sex.

Although the church advocates against premarital sex and adultery, this type of conduct is still prevalent within these institutions. The growing incidence of teenage churchgoers becoming pregnant out of wedlock is disturbing. Rape is on the increase, and the prevalence of STDs and HIV/AIDS is multiplying at an alarming rate.

Unfortunately the method of staying silent or inducing fear of sex proved to be ineffective. In fact, studies indicate that misinformation or lack of information about sex simply increases sexual confusion and vulnerability. It stimulates curiosity and leads to more early experimental behaviors often resulting in unwanted pregnancy, rape, STD and HIV/AIDS.

What works is honest, informed communication, between parents and other adults responsible for raising children. AHRO provides access to the facts on sex education to these adults, and hence, allowing them to clarify their own values within the context of sex and HIV. These values can then be taken to their children, when they learn to become comfortable talking about the subject with other adults and youthful groups.

 

OBJECTIVES

  • To enhance awareness of sexuality/AIDS in relationship to Christian values and its importance
  • Help participants appreciate the spiritual and moral aspects of sexuality.
  • To enhance the knowledge of participants about health, moral and spiritual reasons for delaying sexual activities until marriage and avoidance of HIV/AIDS and STD’s
  • To equip participant with the facts that can dispel myths, taboos and superstitions regarding sex, sexuality, HIV/AIDS and STD’s.
  • Straighten the family socio –economic status and improve their quality of life and reduce the incidence of unplanned pregnancy and avoidance of the spread of HIV/AIDS.

TARGET AUDIENCE

The project will be mass targeted at whole church congregation with larger focus on women and the youth since they naturally constitute the larger portions of churchgoers and congregation.  The church leadership will also be enlisted as collaborators on this project and already the Methodist church of Ghana has signed up as collaborators on this initiative.  The project is also designed to be family oriented and the churches would be the best for a to gather the families as collective entities

COVERAGE AREA

The initial coverage area of the project will be the areas where research figures have shown to be the most prevalent areas in the infection rate of the HIV/AIDS virus. 4 Seminar in each region= 20 seminars and 10 dramas in each region.

PROJECTED OUTREACH

The project is targeted at a primary audience of 200,000 people and a secondary audience (e.g. word of mouth dissemination, brochures etc) of 2 million people.  The project will also set up counseling centers and help and information hotlines.  The initial phase of the project will be to train at least 2 facilitators from every selected church in Ghana to ensure effective rapport between instructors /facilitators and audience.  The Methodist Ghana has already consented to be participants in the project and number of other churches have expressed interest in joining in.

FORMS OF COMMUNICATION

There will be multifaceted activities to help achieve our projected results. These will include:

  • Group/family orientation and interactions,
  • Use of electronic visual projections,
  • Seminars, symposia,
  • Training of peer facilitators,
  • Distribution of print materials,
  • Drama and other forms of entertainment,
  • Enlisting of role models,
  • Educational competitions,
  • Counseling etc.

SUPERVISION

A team of professional personnel from the medical and communications field, will supervise the Project.  A team of highly trained coordinators will also be put in place to ensure effective delegation, dissemination and implementation of designated project activities.  There will be overall supervision of disbursements by auditors appointed by the board.