“6 deaths” linked to UK churches HIV advice

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At least six people have died in the UK after being told they had been cured of HIV and could stop taking their medication.

An undercover investigation by Sky News has revealed that evangelical churches in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow have been telling worshippers that God can heal them of the virus.

The broadcaster sent three undercover reporters to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), in the south London Borough of Southwark.

All of them were told by pastors they could be healed.

The team – who are all HIV positive – had water sprayed in their faces as part of the healing process.

They were also shouted at and told it would rid them of the devil.

One of the pastors, Rachel Holmes, told Sky News, that SCOAN has a “100% success rate”, adding: “if symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea persist, it is actually a sign of the virus leaving the body”.

The former Health Secretary Lord Fowler, who led the HIV/AIDS awareness drive in the 1980s, said SCOAN’s advice about the virus was dangerous and completely incorrect.

With the church being a registered charity, the UK’s Charity Commission has now launched an investigation.

SCOAN told Sky News: “We are not the Healer – God is the Healer. Never a sickness God cannot heal. Never a disease God cannot cure. Never a burden God cannot bear. Never a problem God cannot solve.

“To His power, nothing is impossible. We have not done anything to bring about healing, deliverance or prosperity. If somebody is healed, it is God who heals.

Last month, BBC London aired the findings of a similar investigation into the practice.

Meanwhile, HIV/AIDS support charities are appalled at the revelations.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National Aids Trust told PinkNews.co.uk: ‘It is worrying and tragic that there are people living with HIV being told not to take their life-saving medication.

“Prayer and faith are very important to some people, but this should always be in addition to medical treatment rather than a substitute.

“It is a terrible abuse of trust and faith for these religious leaders to be misleading individuals and this is a serious issue which needs to be tackled.

“If a person with HIV stops taking their medication, there are not only grave health risks but it also increases the likelihood of passing the infection on to others”.

SCOAN is not the only church in the capital that has been offering dangerously incorrect advice about the virus.

A gay HIV positive man was also told to stop taking treatment by a church in north London.

His boyfriend is now believed to be ill with the virus.