Editorial comment

Cases of faith healers and “prophets” who tell people with HIV and Aids to stop taking their life-saving drugs have become rampant in Zimbabwe with many people mortgaging their lives away simply because someone told them divine healing could reverse the condition.

It makes sad reading that many people are dying after defaulting on their medication which has been proven to actually prolong life and offer them a chance to fend for their families.

Antiretroviral drugs although they do not effectively kill the virus, they target and block different stages of the virus’ life cycle. By doing so, the virus is unable to replicate and weaken the human body’s immune system.

And so when patients deliberately stop taking them, the virus can re-emerge (rebound) and multiply. This leaves the body defenceless and unable to fight off any opportunistic infections. The unfortunate ones die while others will have to be initiated to the second line of treatment which is more expensive. Currently, there are challenges with some drugs on this line, more reason why people should stick to their first-line treatment regime.

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These “fake” prophets and faith healers must be taken to task for misleading their congregants and sending them to an early grave. This perennial problem has remained a huge headache for health workers and programmers who are working tirelessly to stem further spread of the disease.

There has to be a legal framework which compels these men of the cloth to desist from making false claims of faith healing. Mere cautioning and awareness raising is not enough in the absence of actual deterrent measures because thousands are in awe of these “men of God” who take advantage of the desperation of the patients to be healed completely.

It is common knowledge that to date there is no known cure (scientifically) of the disease and it is just downright irresponsible of the faith healers to claim otherwise. They should be condemned in the strongest terms because they wield so much power over hapless people who would do anything to be totally rid of the scourge which continues to kill millions every year globally.

The National Aids Council is on the right path of trying to engage further with the church in a bid to get them to understand why it is important to let those on ARVs continue with their medication unless told otherwise by qualified medical personnel.

The responsibility, however, also lies with the congregants who are allowing themselves to be hoodwinked and led astray. They owe it to their families to stay alive and continue to be productive and contribute to the country’s economy which clearly needs more people on board. It is most disheartening when parents decide to stop medication even for the sake of their minor children who have no say in the matter.

Miracle healing when it comes to HIV should be questioned and interrogated. Evidence so far has shown that those who stopped their medication have either died or are struggling with their health.