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PROJECT TOPIC: THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF HIV A CASE OF CATHOLIC CHURCH

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CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTION1.1 Background of the StudyThroughout human history, mankind has been plagued by several strange diseases and in such occurrences, hundreds and thousands die, and it continues even in this contemporary time. However, some of these diseases have been difficult to eradicate and no vaccine has been developed for it. One of such disease is HIV and AIDS.Scientists first identified the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1983. Since then, the disease has spread relentlessly, causing one of the most devastating pandemics ever recorded in human history. According to the National Action on Control of AIDS (NACA, 2014) based on projected HIV estimates for 2014, about 3,391,546 are living with HIV in Nigeria, while it is estimated that 227, 518 new infections occurred in 2014 (male 103,917 and female 123,601). A total of 174,253 died from AIDS related cases in 2014. Here in Akwa Ibom State, according to NACA (2015), the prevalence rate of HIV infections stands at 6.5%. However, the first case of AIDS in Nigeria was reported in 1986, thus establishing the presence of the epidemic in the country. (National Action Control of AIDS, 2014, 2015)According to United Nations Agency for AIDS (UNAID, 2002), HIV and AIDS have left a trail of destruction and affect all alike, knowing no boundaries, the virus does not discriminate between sex, race or creed, and has spread rapidly to every part of the globe. Abue in “HIV/AIDS in Africa” (2013:43) avers that the present dominant campaigns for the control of HIV and AIDS in Africa by the major communication media are focusing on “fear appeal” as pervasive messages describe to scare people by describing the terrible things that will happen to them if they do not do what the message recommends; such as “AIDS leads to death”. Yet still, this has no meaningful impact on the public as people are infected with the HIV virus on daily basics.However, the church plays a critical role in the lives of many people throughout the world; faith in God, in humanity, in science, in love. It is our undying faith in whatever form it takes that brings us hope and gives us energy to carry on, and to believe that however dire our circumstances may be, the future can bring brighter times, healthier times, and happier times. According to (UNAIDS, 2008), Seventy per cent of the world’s population identify themselves as members of one faith community or another and such faith communities play a significant role in influencing people’s behaviors and attitudes. Church leadership has great influence in the lives of many people, and leaders speaking out responsibly about HIV/AIDS can and have made a powerful impact at both community and international levels. According to United Nations Agency for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2008), the Pope and the Archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu made calls for increased funding into the fight against the AIDS epidemic during the G8 Summit in 2008.According to Green, (2003:33) opines that, Faith Based Organizations (FBO) in the field of HIV/AIDS have been providing care, support, and counseling for people living with HIV/AIDS including care for orphans, income generating activities for people living with HIV/AIDS and their dependents and a variety of HIV prevention activities.1.2 Statement of the ProblemHIV/AIDS is a boundless disease, (that is, it is not peculiar to a particular geographical region). In Nigeria, it was discovered about 30 years ago, with an individual case, but presently, millions are now infected. However, it has become clear that it is more than a medical issue, which pervades all spheres of our lives be they social, economic, cultural. Therefore, it is more than an individual problem, for it affects families and the society in general.In recent years the Catholic Church Ikot Ekpene Diocese has been caring in the education and prevention programmes and also caring for those living with HIV/AIDS virus. Yet the response of Churches has been inadequate and, in some cases, made the problem worse. That is, HIV is as a result of witchcraft manipulation in a person’s life, also some churches claim to heal those that are infected with the virus. Therefore, this increases the problem of HIV. A study conducted by May et al (2008: 23- 57) details the serious problems that arise from the spread of HIV/AIDS, which includes the following;Those infected with HIV/AIDS are likely to face economic challenges.Furthermore, that HIV affected households in are likely to face discrimination and stigmatization, compared to their negative counterparts.a


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