Some HIV+ Ugandan Teens Choose Religion Over Meds

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2010

We’ve been documenting the corrosive power of unscrupulous religious leaders in their fight to hang gay people. But the LGBT population isn’t the only one suffering from the ignorance and superstitions that pass as Christianity:

Rebecca Nakityo, 17, spends every free moment watching gospel TV, reading the Bible or praying in church. The soft-spoken teen — who has lived with her aunt and uncle since her parents’ death several years ago — told IRIN/PlusNews she believed she was cured by God six months ago.

According to Nakityo, as the pastor’s voice reverberated through the church hall, she felt filled with the healing power of God. Nakityo now regularly gives testimonies about her “healing” and has stopped taking her ARVs (anti-retroviral medications).

By the time many young people find their way back to the health system, it is too late. “We had a client who was in church; they brought her and dumped her at Baylor (Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation Uganda) — we tried to treat her but it was too late,” Ssuna said.

The so-called “prosperity gospel,” sometimes known as “name it and claim it” theology, has become a major force in Uganda. Much as elsewhere, there are entire satellite and terrestrial television stations whose entire programming is devoted to making all sorts of miraculous promises in exchange for prayer — and donation. Well-known American pastors like Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, T.D. Jakes and others have inspired legions of home-grown Ugandan prosperity preachers who are known as much by their immense houses and expensive S.U.V’s as they are by their highly-charged emotional services.

If pastors have no shame about living in extreme wealth and extravagance  while 52% of Ugandans get by on less than US$1.25 a day, then it should come as no surprise that they would also have no shame about urging their followers to also abandon life-saving medications.

According to Mary Kiwanuka, who has an adolescent daughter living with HIV, the influence of television evangelists should not be underestimated. “These children are exposed to too much television which shows people being healed,” she said. “In their circumstances, with too much peer pressure and the pill load, if there is an alternative they take it.”


October 8th, 2010

happens too often in Uganda. Pastor cure HIV…. and beam that on tv.


October 8th, 2010

In time the cynicism will creep into the next generation as they see the “healing” never happened. Unfortunately, decades will pass and many more die before it does.

Regan DuCasse

October 8th, 2010

Wonder how they’ll blame failure of the cure, on the person with the infection, instead of their bogus claims.

Can’t pray away the gay, can’t pray away HIV either.
But pay up, they aren’t exploiting desperation, ignorance and fear…oh no.
This is God’s work, right?

Isn’t this another pay for play…to get to heaven?

How loathsome.

John in the Bay Area

October 8th, 2010

I would think that the disillusionment with the lies would happen sooner. Only so many people can get astonishingly rich. If the only rich one in your village is the pastor that everyone is giving their money too, you don’t have to be the brightest bulb to figure that out.

Further, death rates when there is no treatment (or treatment is being avoided) for HIV can be devastating to a community. It would seem pretty obvious to anyone paying only casual attention to the funerals all around them that these pastors aren’t curing anyone of HIv.

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2010

Matthew 18:6 – But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Surely if anything is sin, deliberately allowing a virus to destroy your body would have to be included in that category.


October 8th, 2010

I’ve watched friends and acquaintances die from routinely taking in poisons called “life saving medications”.

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