A church in London has apparently been convincing HIV-positive patrons to refrain from accepting medication, as God had "cured" them.
A report in the London Evening Standard, which featured undercover SKY journalists posing as HIV patients, said they were advised against taking prescribed medication, as the disease could be healed by pastors at the Synagogue Church of All Nations, in Southwark. According to the newspaper, the "healing" process involved pastors splashing water on the patients' face and shouting at them, ordering the devil to come out.
The journalists in question have been recorded on video, giving "before" and "after" testimonies, which have reportedly been published on the church's Web site.
The Sky News report said that at least six patients had lost their lives, after discontinuing their medication on the church's advice.
"We are really worried to hear that individuals have been given false information about HIV treatments which, dangerously, put lives at risk. It's essential anyone living with HIV keeps taking the treatments that they've been prescribed by their health professionals to prevent severe ill health," said Jason Warriner, of the HIV and sexual health charity, Terrence Higgins Trust.
Expressing concern over the issue, Lord Fowler, the former Health Secretary, who initiated HIV and Aids awareness campaigns in the 1980s, said the church's message was dangerous.
"It is foolish advice and it is tragic advice because the consequences of this kind of advice can only be that people pass on HIV and can only be seriously bad for the individual concerned - including death," he said.
Apparently, Rachel Holmes, one of the pastors, told a journalist that if signs of vomiting or diarrhea continue, it indicated the virus was leaving the body. The church has issued a statement in its defence, stating that they "have not done anything to bring about healing, deliverance or prosperity. If somebody is healed, it is God who heals."