Many people find that their community of faith is supportive during difficult times in life. Your diagnosis with HIV may bring about these types of feelings.
Continuing to participate in your community of faith can give strength, courage, encouragement and feelings of hope.
Unfortunately, some faith groups find HIV and sexuality difficult topics to discuss. As with any group of people, there runs the risk of stigma and discrimination when a subject cannot be addressed openly.
Stigma and discrimination are difficult burdens to bear, and may cause those who are HIV positive to withdraw from their faith community or become silent. Many people living with HIV often do not disclose their status within their faith community because of fears of being treated differently. As a result, faith communities may wrongly believe that everyone feels welcomed and safe.
Remember that you should not feel pressure to disclose your HIV status until you feel comfortable with it. Read more about disclosure in our Telling people section.
Although some faith communities may hold views of stigma and discrimination, this is certainly not true for all faith leaders or communities.
Should you choose to be part of a faith community, it is important to find one where you do feel welcome and where you can disclose your HIV status without the fear of being rejected, discriminated against or stigmatised. There are some organisations which offer faith-based support groups for people living with HIV, such as groups run by the the Naz project and CAPS (Catholics for AIDS Prevention and Support).
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Pastor Elizabeth was told to swap HIV treatment for prayer. See her story.
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