Training resource for HIV and AIDS
Caption: education is key to stopping the spread of HIV and stigma
“The manual Pastoral Training and Responding to HIV and AIDS is the cornerstone of our work,” said Tsielo Mpeqa, Director of Caritas Lesotho.
Caritas developed the manual to provide insights and guidelines to people of faith who are striving to develop a compassionate, effective and non-judgmental response to the pandemic.
Caritas Lesotho and Caritas USA (CRS) ran training courses in Lesotho using the manual, providing training first for 15 priests, who went out and trained another 180 Church leaders on HIV prevention, care and comfort.
Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy of about 12,000 square miles and two million people that is surrounded by South Africa. An estimated 30 percent or more of its people have HIV/AIDS.
The manual covers topics such as prevention, spread, social impact, emotional impact, response of the Church, and what activities parishes and ministries can carry out in response to the pandemic. It integrates factual, scientifically-based information and guidelines provided by such organisations as UNAIDS and World Health Organization with Catholic Church doctrine and pastoral reflection.
Mr Mpeqa said, “This has changed following the training. Priests visit people with HIV in their homes and talk about the virus in sermons. People living with HIV are encouraged to take part in services.”
Christian Church leaders signed a declaration in front of the King and Prime Minister saying that they were committed to supporting people with HIV and AIDS. John Shumlansky, Caritas USA(CRS) representative in Lesotho, said, “Putting HIV in the pulpit every week has got people involved. It’s really made a positive difference.”
In countries like Lesotho with 90 percent Christians, the Church – and particularly local parishes and charitable organisations such as parish and diocesan Caritas – play a unique role in responding to HIV and AIDS.
One of the issues in the kingdom is multiple partnerships and the manual helps people address this issue and think about family values.
Caritas Lesotho and CRS now have plans to translate the manual to the local language and distribute it more widely. The ground work that has been laid so far has impressed donors to help fund the scheme.
“The manual has been a fantastic resource in the field,” said Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight, “The manual provides church workers with comprehensible materials so they can educate believers at grassroots level to prevent the further spread of the virus and comfort and care for those support those affected by HIV.”
FEATURES HIV and Aids: A Global Picture A Catholic Response Caritas AIDS response around the world Catholic Networking: Networking in South Africa and beyond Caritas networking around the world Faith-Based networking Caritas and the United Nations Special Advisor on HIV and AIDS for Caritas Internationalis Stigma and Exclusion Training resource for HIV and AIDS Bishop's Documents Resources from the Vatican