Malawi Drafts Law To Prevent Claims of HIV/AIDS Cures
Malawi has drafted a law to prevent traditional healers from claiming that they can cure HIV/AIDS and religious leaders from advising their congregations to give up treatment for prayer, Mary Shawa, principal secretary for nutrition and HIV/AIDS at the president's office, said on Tuesday, Reuters South Africa reports. The draft bill will be presented to Malawi's Parliament on March 4, Shawa said, adding that when the bill "passes into law, all those traditional healers claiming to cure AIDS and religious leaders stopping people from taking" antiretroviral drugs "will be dealt with." She added, "These are desperate times, and we need stern action to deal with these people misleading people." According to Shawa, the details of the draft bill will be made public when Parliament meets.
The Malawi Council of Churches last week said that five HIV-positive people who had been taking antiretrovirals died after their church pastor advised them to stop taking the drugs because the pastor said they had been cured by prayer. Some health officials estimate that one million people are living with HIV in Malawi and that about 640,000 people have died from AIDS-related causes since 1985 (Reuters South Africa, 2/26).