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Religious Belief & AIDS in Africa

A personal Journey
Gideon Byamugisha

Gideon Byamugisha was the first practicing minister of religion in Africa to publicly disclose he is HIV positive. He has fought against the stigma and discrimination that people experience when they are infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS in Uganda, other societies in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.

“When I opened up, in 1992, HIV was seen as a disease of sinners. People preached that HIV/AIDS is a disease, with no cure, and no vaccine, that attacks prostitutes and people with loose morals. If you say you are HIV positive, people still ask, ‘Have you repented?’ On television and from the pulpit you hear that AIDS is a disease of truck drivers and prostitutes, but I'm neither a prostitute nor a truck driver’.

His personal encounter with HIV/AIDS was a start of a long journey as an activist. He started to speak about his condition, in particular with other religious leaders. In his lecture he will relive his personal journey and give his reflections on why some religious leaders have attempted to fight against discrimination, while other have done exactly the opposite and denied people access to good prevention methods and treatment, to care, compassion and acceptance.  He will also review some of the religious and spiritual coping mechanisms people living with HIV and AIDS in Sub-Sahara Africa employ against the HIV in their lives, families and communities.
Gideon Byamugisha (1959) was an Anglican priest in Kampala, Uganda when he learned that he was HIV-positive after his first wife had suddenly died in 1992. He became the founder of a network for religious leaders who are personally affected by HIV/AIDS that is active world-wide (INERELA+). In Uganda he is an influential spokes-person on these issues, not only within his church, but also in being a critical voice in society. He openly condemns the so-called anti-homosexuality bill that was discussed in parliament in 2011, stating that it was discriminatory and intolerant and avoided to take up the real social problems Uganda is facing.

Gideon Byamugisha was the first practicing minister of religion in Africa to publicly disclose he is HIV positive. He has fought against the stigma and discrimination that people experience when they are infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS in Uganda, other societies in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world.

This lecture is organized in collaboration with International Research Network on Aids and Religion in Africa (IRNARA), Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, African Study Centre and EDUCAIDS.

Interesting links
www.inerela.org
Gardian Ugandan church leader brands anti-gay bill 'genocide' 
Huffinton Post World AIDS Day: A Conversation From Uganda With Gideon Byamugisha
Conference: Biographies in Times of Crisis - Exploring Religious Narratives of AIDS in Africa and the African Diaspora

 

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