Elton John hails Malawi’s Banda at Aids conference, Sembereka says ‘time to confess’

The rock superstar Sir Elton John  took time in his address at the International Aids Conference in Washington DC on Monday to hail Malawi President Mrs Joyce Banda for brave interventions in the fight against HIV/Aids such as involving  the sexual minority groups.

President Banda’s administration wants no discrimination on people based on sexual orientation in having access to health services including providing access to HIV treatment and care.

The singer, founder of the Elton John Aids Foundation, who is a confessed gay, said: “’Everyone deserves compassion. Everyone deserves dignity. Everyone, everyone, everyone deserves love.”

The singer called for the end of stigma, saying: “Aids disease is caused by a virus, but the Aids epidemic is not. The Aids epidemic is fuelled by stigma, violence and indifference.”

Sir Elton John: Stop stigma to win war against Aids

He said: “We need more humanity, more love if we are to end Aids.”

Malawi has Coordinator for Safe Motherhood, Mrs. Dorothy Ngoma  and Presidential advisor on religious affairs,  Reverend Macdonald Sembereka as some of its representatives at the conference.

Sembereka calls for confession

Rev Sembereka  spoke on a panel entitled, “The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Turning the Tide on the HIV Pandemic.”

He  and other fellow panellists Phramaha Boonchuay Doojai, a monk from Thailand and moderator John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, discussed the evolution of faith-based organizations’ thinking on AIDS and HIV since the epidemic began.

Sembereka said that early on, “the way the epidemic was expressed to most of us was that it affected the promiscuous, and sinners, and people said, ‘What do we have to do with sinners? We are supposed to be holy.’”

Faith-based organizations now need to gain people’s trust, he said according to Washington Post.

“There are people who still up to now don’t want to hear anything about the church because of the approach the church had taken toward HIV-AIDS,” he told a session hall packed with listeners, adding that his own awakening on the matter came when his older brother was diagnosed with the virus. “

“It is time to confess,” he said, “to sins of omission.”

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