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The number of people living with HIV in Waltham Forest is rising, according to research
Christian churches have been urged to learn more about HIV following a claim members of the congregation are too afraid to be tested.
Religious leaders from Waltham Forest are being asked to support a new charity and get educated on the virus.
The borough has one of the highest number of people with HIV in the country, it has been claimed.
According to the National AIDS Trust (NAT), one in 180 people in Waltham Forest has the virus.
The national average is one in 650.
Just 11 years ago that number was one in 275.
NAT statistics also state that 52 per cent of people living with HIV in Waltham Forest are diagnosed late.
Late diagnosis or refusal to be tested could be down to some evangelical Christian churches, according to Reverend Fred Annin, founder of Action Plus Foundation.
He said: “The Bible does not condemn people with HIV as cursed. It shouldn’t be taboo to discuss it in churches.
“It’s a medical condition and people need medical help. Prayer cannot bring our health back when we ignore medicine.
“Some churches have been ignorant and believe misconceptions about the disease. People become afraid to be diagnosed as they risk social stigma and being thrown out of the church.”.
Residents of the borough can access confidential HIV testing services at the Whipps Cross University Hospital sexual health service, open daily Monday to Friday, and Walthamstow Citizens Advice Bureau on Wednesday afternoons.
Churches interested in find out more about what the charity can do for them should contact email@example.com.
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