Lies that spread HIV in Mozambique

Ever since the Garden of Eden, the devil has used lies to destroy people and separate us from God. Sometimes, he can be very sneaky and hard to detect, but other times, it's easy to see his work.

In many places in Mozambique, the devil's lies trap generation after generation of families in extreme poverty. (Check last week's blog post to see how truth from the Bible brought clean water to one Mozambican community.)

This can be seen so clearly in the AIDS pandemic which killed 97,000 Mozambicans in 2005 alone, according to our field staff. The disease has become vast in many parts of rural the country thanks to a slew of lies about how it is contracted and treated.

“Widow cleansing”

When one spouse dies of unknown or unnatural causes, the death usually is attributed to evil spirits, requiring the surviving spouse to undergo a cleanse.

The widow or widower first receives treatment from a traditional healer or herbalist to ensure the deadly spirit or disease is flushed out. Then, to mark the end of the surviving spouse's grieving period, a sexual ritual is performed between the widow/widower and a family member of the deceased spouse. Sometimes, the surviving spouse will marry a relative of the deceased spouse, but this is becoming less common.

This sexual ritual, employed across the world but known in Mozambique as pita cufa, spreads HIV. If the deceased spouse died of AIDS, his surviving widow also could be infected and thus infect the brother …and then the brother's wife or wives, if the family is polygamist.
It can spread so fast.

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5

Traditional healers

Because of untrue beliefs or a lack of cash to pay medical bills,
it is very common for ailing people to choose traditional healers
over state-run medical clinics. 

These healers also contribute to the spread of HIV by prescribing deadly remedies.

Sex with virgins as a cure for AIDS is a classic myth in many developing countries, not only spreading the disease but hurting many girls in the process. Many traditional healers also perform medical procedures with unsterilized blades or even use sex with the patient as an alleged therapy.

More commonly, these healers discourage people suffering from HIV from going to the state-run medical clinics where they could access life-extending medication, pushing instead for more traditional options.

Truth and life in Jesus

The Christian staff of FH/Mozambique work hard to teach adults and adolescents about the science behind HIV and God's design for marriage. Using the “cascade model,” the staff teach community volunteers who, in turn, teach several other volunteers, and the messages spread far and wide.

Creative means like drama or song help transmit the truth
to whole communities.

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