partnership for an aids-free generation

Kesis Dawit leads diocese officials in prayer before a SCOPE HIV/AIDS testing campaign at the North Gondar Diocese

Kesis Dawit leads diocese officials in prayer before a SCOPE HIV/AIDS testing campaign at the North Gondar Diocese

SCOPE's collaborative engagement model brings together religious and medical communities arounds a common goal of realizing an AIDS-free generation and improving the lives of people affected by HIV/AIDS.

In 2010, SCOPE formed a partnership with the North Gondar Diocese in Ethiopia.  On their first project they celebrated the opening of a museum of religious treasures by putting on an HIV/AIDS testing campaign.  More than 800 people were tested for HIV through the testing campaign held on the diocese grounds where public figures, including the Archbishop and 55 priests, were among the first to be tested.  Since the inception of the partnership, SCOPE fellows and staff have worked with leadership of the North Gondar diocese to provide training to religious leaders designed to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention, control, support, stigma-reduction, and care.

HOLY WATER SITES:

SCOPE staff pose with priests who dispense holy water (baptists) before a training on the co-use of traditional medicine and HIV medication.

SCOPE staff pose with priests who dispense holy water (baptists) before a training on the co-use of traditional medicine and HIV medication.

Holy water sites in Ethiopia are traditional places of healing.  People of the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian faith, who make up 85% of the population in the Gondar region where SCOPE works, travel for miles or even days to seek the curative powers of holy water blessed by Orthodox priests. Visitors drink holy water and submerge themselves in pools to receive healing.

Those who visit these sites believe that holy water has curative powers and can heal any illness from HIV to depression or anxiety. 

This tradition offers a unique opportunity to reach populations that are typically difficult to access for health education and services, including people living with HIV.   SCOPE works with health workers and Orthodox priests at six traditional healing sites in Gondar to encourage holy water users with HIV to supplement holy water with modern medicine.  Orthodox priests are trained to counsel, support, and refer parishioners who disclose their HIV status to the health system for treatment.  SCOPE is particularly focused on ensuring that people living with HIV are accessing the medication they need and encouraging those who don’t know their HIV status to be tested.