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Nigeria AIDS & Churches - 2002-12-20

Churches in South – Eastern and Niger Delta regions of Nigeria have launched an Aids awareness campaign. The Churches say the key to fighting HIV/ AIDS is behavior change and abstinence, but not the use of condoms. However, some residents in the regions insist they will continue to use condoms.

Bride Azogiro is a peer group educator of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Awka in South Eastern Nigeria. She says some members of the Church have tested positive to HIV / Aids. She says the Church has set up a committee to take the Aids awareness campaign to the grassroots.

She says, “In this Church, we have formed Parish Action Committee on Aids, which involves all those who have attended one form of training on this Aids or another. And we have expanded that committee to include Presidents, Secretaries and Leaders of organizations here such as Catholic youth of Nigeria and Pius organizations. They really will get to the grassroots because during their prayers or meetings, they can create a period to talk about Aids.”

Miss Azogiro says the Catholic Church is against the use of condoms. She says the church preaches total abstinence for unmarried people and faithfulness to one's partner for married couples.

Father Jerome Okafor is the Cathedral Administrator of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. He says the Aids pandemic is a threat to youths.

He says the use of condoms for protection against contracting the Aids virus is not reliable. He says, “Condom is not safe. The thing can tear. It is not completely safe because Aids virus is a microscopic thing, which can pass through the eyes of the condom. So it is not safe”.

Father Okafor says the church has been teaching youths to adopt behavior change as a means of fighting the Aids pandemic.

However, the El – shaddai church in Port Harcourt, in the Niger Delta, says its fight against Aids is in line with what the bible preaches. Melford Victor George Will is the Administrative secretary of the church.

He says, “The fight we have against Aids is based totally on the bible. That is on the religious aspect where the bible says that we should not fornicate and having in mind that fornication is the ethos of our religion. We see it as a point where every Christian should abide with. So that, that act of using condom might not be there. But for those married ones who feel, they do not want children at a point in their marriage, condom is allowed, we are not preaching against that”.

He says his church is against the use of condoms by youths and unmarried people because it encourages fornication.

Some residents of the South – Eastern and Niger Delta regions of Nigeria are reacting to the stand taken by the churches on the use of condoms.

Mr. Christian Douglas is a Port Harcourt based businessman. He says though churches have the duty to preach to their followers, he will continue to use condoms to prevent contracting the Hiv, the AIDS virus, and other sexually transmitted diseases.