Friday, March 24, 2006

Stopping AIDS in Africa

Burundi's HIV church wedding ban - BBC

Roman Catholic Church leaders in Burundi have told priests not to conduct wedding ceremonies for people who are HIV positive.

Couples in the central African state will have to give an HIV test certificate to the priest. Aids activists said this was discriminatory.

Guidelines in a booklet issued by the church authorities also forbid church weddings for pregnant women.

Roman Catholics are Burundi's largest religion group.

This statement from ANSS, an association of persons with HIV/AIDS is interesting.

But an association of people with HIV, ANSS, said it was against "forced tests", reports the Reuters news agency.

"The church has a duty to moralise to people, but to moralise to people or give good advice... does not mean becoming a policeman or giving orders," ANSS head Jeanne Gapiya said.

I can't find anything about ANSS. The link to its website provided by a Google search reveals a directory with no actual webpages available for viewing.

In any case, the Church's position is perfectly valid. A person with AIDS who knows he or she is carrying it can stop spreading it and seek what medical help there is available. A person with AIDS who doesn't know (and refuses to find out) is simply being irresponsible and homicidal.

In the context of getting married, there are several reasons why this policy should be implemented. Brides and grooms ought to know the physical condition of each other and what that will mean for the coming marriage. If either refuses the test, that says something about trust and sharing that will certainly be an indicator as to the health of a future relationship.

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