07 2 / 2013

The one thing that I don’t like about the emphasis of prayer in Botswana is its relationship with HIV. For instance, a woman came in to the clinic demanding to be tested for HIV. This woman was well known in the clinic, she was one of the first enrolled in the ARV program, and has had two babies participate in the PMTCT program. This means she has tested positive previously.

She told us that her pastor had declared her cured of HIV – that he had healed her through prayer. She took another HIV test, which was also positive. Regardless, she decided to trust her pastor and discontinue her ARVs. This woman has three children to take care of, what will happen when she falls sick again?

I was talking to some nursing students about it, and they both told me that they believe that prayer can cure someone of HIV, and that they had heard testimonials about it in church. This made me so angry. How could someone in a position of authority, such as a pastor, encourage this? It doesn’t make any sense to me, what is the gain? Here is this life saving treatment (that’s free); how could you encourage someone to turn away from it? The fact that nurses also believe this frustrates me even more.