A study is underway on the role of faith-based organizations in caring and supporting people with HIV/AIDS. It?s presently a work in progress ? due to be released in January 2005. But preliminary findings indicate there is a role ? a significant one.
English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard interviewed Dr. Karin Ringheim, the director of research and analysis for the Global Health Council in Washington and a co-author of the report, entitled ?The Role of Faith Based Organizations in HIV Prevention, Care and Support.?
Dr. Ringheim defined the term ?faith based? as any organization that?s religious in nature as well as ?registered and unregistered non-profit institutions that have a religious character or mission, which includes centers of worship and organizations that provide services,? not including traditional healers.
She explains the goal of the report is to help the 40 million people infected with HIV/AIDS and to identify ?effective means of preventing HIV as well as providing care and support to the millions affected.? The New York based Catholic Medical Mission Board authorized and finances the study. She says the Global Health council agreed to do the research if the Counsel had ?complete autonomy in conducting it in a scientific manner.?
She says that so far there is no evidence that religious institutions are using the service to proselytize, but one question on the study asks FBOs if they ?are willing to serve the broader community or only their own members.? She says that because religion ?plays such a central role in people?s lives? in Africa, there is strong evidence that on the Continent, FBOs are very significant in helping people deal with HIV/AIDS.