Churches Can Care for HIV/AIDS Patients in Place of Professionals, Says Medical Director

LAKE FOREST, Calif. - A “Purpose Driven” HIV/AIDS workshop discussed the vision of having local churches directly care and treat patients in place of medical professionals.

A workshop – The Local Church Engaged in Prevention/Treatment/Care/Support – at the first Purpose Driven international conference on Church and AIDS provided statistics and information on current treatments as well as discussing the potential for global local churches to directly care for patients.

“HIV/AIDS patients [in the future] may not have to go to hospitals but can go to church to prepare for treatment,” said Dr. Robert Redfield of The Institute of Human Virology to the crowd of pastors, church leaders and Christians called to actively fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. “I want people to be comfortable in being part of the daily treatment where five churches, for instance, can take care of patients under a simple system under the supervision of a hospital.”

Redfield informed attentive listeners that in Malawi, there are more than three million patients being cared for by a total of 42 doctors and listed statistics of other African nations with a similar shortage in medical professionals in comparison with HIV/AIDS patients.

The medical director qualified that the care and treatment program would have to prove successful with patients not relapsing in 1-2 years before it would be implemented in local churches in Africa and other countries battling the pandemic.

Yet he also acknowledged that the church faced the obstacle of viewing HIV/AIDS as a stigma for sinners – a belief that has to be changed in order for the program to launch, Redfield noted. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, also addressed this dilemma during a press conference earlier in the day and emphasized that Christians need to change their attitude towards HIV/AIDS.

“One of the messages that we have to say loud and clear is it’s not a sin to be sick,” said Warren. “Sin can cause sickness. If I overeat and have a heart attack, that’s my fault. All kinds of bad behaviors can cause illness. The illness itself is not a sickness.”

Redfield said that contrary to popular opinion, a technical degree is not necessarily required in caring for HIV/AIDS patients, but rather a desire to heal and love the patients.

“If you can really love them you can heal them,” he said in conclusion.