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A London church has been putting lives at risk by telling HIV-positive worshippers to stop taking their medication because God had “cured” them.
Undercover reporters posing as HIV sufferers were told they could be healed by pastors at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Southwark.
After a “healing” process where the pastor sprayed water in their faces and shouted over them asking for the devil to come out, the “patients” were told they could discard their medication.
Sky News, which carried out the exposé, said at least six patients in the UK have died after being told by various churches to stop taking HIV tablets.
Jason Warriner of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust said: “We’re really worried to hear that individuals have been given false information about HIV treatments which, dangerously, put lives at risk.
“It’s essential anyone living with HIV keeps taking the treatments that they’ve been prescribed by their health professionals to prevent severe ill health.”
Former health secretary Lord Fowler, who led the HIV and Aids awareness drive in the Eighties, said the church’s message was dangerous.
He said: “It is foolish advice and it is tragic advice because the consequences of this kind of advice can only be that people pass on HIV and can only be seriously bad for the individual concerned – including death.”
Sky sent three undercover reporters to the church, where they said they were HIV positive and were told they could be healed.
They are filmed giving “before and after testimonies”, which are put on the church’s website.
One of the pastors, Rachel Holmes, told a reporter that if symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea persist, it is a sign of the virus leaving the body.
In a statement, the Synagogue Church of All Nations said: “We have not done anything to bring about healing, deliverance or prosperity. If somebody is healed, it is God who heals.”