Lyn @ PACANet Consultation on Multiple and Concurrent Sexual Partnerships. 26-30/4/2010

"It was very good to discuss this topic so openly in a faith setting. I have to admit that I was quite shurprised by the some of ways in which participants feel faith communities increase the opportunity or possibility for multiple partners" Lyn said after she participated in this consultation held at Ezulwini Sun International Hotel in Swaziland from From 26th-30th April 2010.

The consultation was organised by PACANet in conjunction with the Church Forum on HIV and AIDS, Swaziland. The aim of the consultation was to is to provide a forum for key stakeholders from churches, Christian organizations and theological institutions to discuss the issue of multiple and concurrent sexual partners as a risk behaviour for HIV infection.

Prior to the consultation the outcomes were identified as:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the role of MCP in HIV transmission and of social and cultural factors which must be addressed in changing MCP behaviours and strengthening protective behaviours such as mutual fidelity and marriage;
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the present Christian response and how the church can effectively address MCP;
  • Determine realistic steps and commitments that can be taken by consultation participants and begin to plan country and regional action.
You can read the PACANet MCP Consultation Communique here.
The PACANet Chronicles, Volume 4, Issue 2 published in July 2010 reports as follows:

Multiple Concurrent Sexual Partnerships: A risk behavior in HIV transmission


From 26th to 30th April, PACANet in collaboration with the Church Forum on HIV and AIDS in Swaziland organized a consultation meeting on Multiple Concurrent partnerships (MCP). The meeting that ran for 5 days saw 90 senior church leaders from Eastern and Southern Africa representing various denominations. There was representation from 18 countries; Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, United States of America, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The goal of the consultation was to provide a forum for key stakeholders from churches and Christian organizations to discuss the issue of multiple and concurrent sexual partners as a risk behavior for HIV infection.

While speaking at the opening session, Derrick Von Wissel Director of NERCHA, explained HIV transmission dynamics using a case study on Swaziland.

Mr. David Cunningham of Family Impact and former chairperson of PACANet led the devotions and spoke about Marriage and relationships and the experience of the church with MCP. He described marriage as a significant unit in society and the church contributing to the strength of the nation. He however remarked that marriage and family are under attack, that there are forces both physical and spiritual working against its well being. He said that the church is in the world but not of the world and should be the salt and light in order to have impact.

“Today God’s church is divided, we ignore one another; we fail to communicate; we do not share; we duplicate what each is doing. We fear competition for funds if we tell another group what we are doing. We do our own thing. God is not glorified and the world is not saved” he noted.

Derrick Von Wissel said that only 21% of children in Swaziland have both parents. Derrick remarked that this leave us with many questions for instance; is the marriage strong? How does a mother teach a boy to be a man? What role modelling is there for these children? Has the church been too silent or is it losing its moral ability?

There were three plenary sessions during which presentation were made by various speakers including Rt. Rev. Bishop Mabuza of Council of Swaziland Churches, Rev. Dr. Nyambura, Rev. Njiru Pauline of EHAIA, Mrs. Allison Ruark of CCIH, Dr. Taruvinga of The  Leadership Agenda, Dr. Okaalet of MAP International, Mr. and Mrs. Lubega of Maternal  Life Uganda, Rev. Fr. Maulano of SECAM Rev. Lubaale of OAIC, Rt. Rev. Banda of  Expanded Church Response to HIV/AIDS Trust and Dr. Chitando of WCC-EHAIA.

Some of  the topics discussed include epidemiological perspectives on the family, The joy of marriage, The blessing of faithfulness and the pains of betrayal, The challenges of maintaining a good marriage even in the church, The experience of the Roman Catholic Church, African Instituted Churches, the evangelical movement and the mainline established  churches.

Being a consultation, plenty of time was allowed for group discussions. Participants explored the causes of MCP, the relationship between MCP and the rapid transmission of HIV and some specific actions for the church take to respond to the issue.

At the end of the consultation a communiqué was produced and presented during the closing ceremony which was attended by the Swaziland minister of Health, his deputy and other dignitaries. The minister thanked PACANet for organizing such an important event. He said that the church has comparative advantage in addressing the challenge of AIDS, as it has a presence and reach to every community, making coverage achievable. He said that the church is the right partner for government to work with to respond to HIV and AIDS.

Participants made commitments on specific actions they intended to carry out back in their countries as a result of their engagement in the consultation.

You can download a selection of presentations from the consultation below:

- The Challenges Of Maintaining A Good Marriage, Even Within The Church! Gonzaga & Paskazia Lubega, Directors Maternal Life Uganda.

- The Joy of Marriage: Marriage As It Was Intended To Be. Grace Taruvinga; Leadership Agenda

- The Experience of the Church With MCPs - An Evangelical Perspective; Bishop Joshua H K Banda

- Epidemiological Perspectives on Marriage & Family; Allison Ruark, MSPH; Christian Connections For International Health

- Why Is HIV Prevalence So Severe In Southern Africa? And “What Works” (And Doesn’t) For Aids Prevention?  Daniel Halperin, Phd, Ms Senior Advisor For Behavior Change/Primary Prevention, USAID

- Marriage and Family: The Blessings of Faithfulness and the Pains of Betrayal. Dr Peter Okaalet, Map

- The Experience of the Catholic Church with Regard to the Situation of Multiple Concurrent Sexual Partnership in HIV Transmission: The Historical Evolution, the Present Practice and Theology, and Future Intervention. Fr. Martinho Maulano

- The Socio-Cultural Perspectives. Bishop Mabuzo

- Multiple Concurrent Partnerships – Defining the Problem: Causes and Effects the Gender Perspective; Dr Nyambura Njoroge and Revd Pauline Wanjiru

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