The Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA) has, at its three-yearly synod, adopted a R22.5 million HIV/AIDS ministry programme to commence immediately.
The programme is a direct result of a yearlong strategic planning process. This has gone on throughout the 4 million member Anglican Church, encompassing six of the hardest hit nations on the sub-continent. More than a thousand parishioners participated in strategic planning, which has yielded ministry plans for every diocese of the CPSA.
The Synod, meeting at the University of the Free State, also unanimously endorsed Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane's call for reduction in the risk of AIDS, including the correct use of condoms. It also adopted, as policy, a five-fold strategy for risk reduction.
- Knowing HIV-antibody status and its consequences through HIV testing
- Abstaining from sexual activity before marriage
- Practising fidelity and faithfulness within marriage
- Delaying the beginning sexual activity in adolescence for as long as possible for those who cannot remain abstinent
- Correct use of condoms, particularly for those couples in which one is HIV+ and the other is HIV-
Echoing the Archbishop's words, the Synod said, "Condoms can save lives and effectively prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, when used correctly. The morality of condoms is about preserving life."
In other action, the Synod endorsed a call on the South African government to make Nevirapine available immediately as an emergency measure in order to prevent further spread of HIV through mother-to-child transmission.
For the past 19 months, the Archbishop has led the CPSA in a strategic partnership with COSATU and the Treatment Action Campaign to make life-saving treatments available to South Africans. The CPSA has joined in law suits and actions which demand that the government respond to the AIDS Crisis.
Archbishop Ndungane said, "It is sinful that the government has withheld interventions and treatments that could reduce the effects of HIV. It is criminal that thousands remain at risk for HIV infection and still many more are dying from lack of treatment. This is all because of the government's failure to obey the law and act. Again, we call on the government to respond with both compassion and due haste. For our part, we hold ourselves ready to implement a partnership for life."
Already, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed R1.8 million for a wellness management programme to be administered through the CPSA"s Mothers' Union and the Anglican Women's Fellowship. Additionally, development of an 'AIDS in the Workplace Policy', a youth ministry curriculum on sexuality and HIV, and pilot projects for ministry with orphaned children have been funded for the next year. Other donors to the AIDS ministry work of the CPSA include: US-based Episcopal Relief and Development; Christian Aid of the UK; UNAIDS; the Compass Rose Society and several Anglican parishes in Washington, DC.
Next week, the Archbishop will travel overseas for meetings with a number of international donors who have expressed a desire to fund elements of the Provincial plan for the next three years. The entire plan is expected to cost between R7.5-8 million per year.
Article from: Bloemfontein