Religion as an asset for PEPFAR-funded HIV prevention programs in Durban.
Paul Germond and Sepetla Molapo have defined bophelo as a particular BaSotho conception of health and religion. This scholarship defining bophelo derives several policy principles for public health seeking to appreciate religious entities as assets: 1) should actively engage religious entities and to treat them as potential assets in HIV prevention 2) that the value of religion for health is typically not tangible to western scientific and technical methodologies 3) health and religion are sought at a communal level, at which individuals are united through bonds of trust and a common set of cultural practices, often expressed with reference ancestor reverence. Germond and Molapo argue that conceptions of health and religion in other southern African cultures and nations are closely analogous to bophelo, and sketch the relevance of these conceptions for the effectiveness of the public health response to the HIV epidemic in southern Africa. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is the United States initiative to prevent HIV and treat AIDS across the globe. PEPFAR is notable for funding a high proportion of faith-based organizations for HIV prevention relative to other major HIV and AIDS initiatives. This is study of two faith-based organizations, HOPE Worldwide and Youth for Christ. Both received funding from PEPFAR to conduct HIV prevention programs in Durban in 2007. The study assesses the conceptions of religion as an asset for their interventions with specific reference to the principles of Germond and Molapo’s bophelo scholarship.