The role of church leaders in HIV and AIDS prevention in the Sweetwaters Community : Pietermaritzburg area.
This study sought to investigate the role of church leaders in the prevention and management of HIV and AIDS in the Sweetwaters community. In terms of HIV and AIDS South Africa is the most affected country in sub-Saharan Africa with KwaZulu-Natal as the epicenter of the pandemic. Therefore it is against this backdrop that the researcher articulates the management and leadership roles of church leaders in the prevention of HIV and AIDS as the center of this study. It is imperative that church pastors equip among themselves in order for them to have a significant effect in addressing HIV and AIDS issues in a context like the Sweetwaters community, for example. Church leaders are strategically positioned to play a central role in the combat against the pandemic within their churches and communities. This study has been undertaken using questionnaires and focus group studies with ten church leaders from Sweetwaters the community. The research seeks to: (a) gain a understanding of challenges confronting church leaders; (b) understand how they can tackle this challenge effectively as regards their leadership role. The above mentioned is summed up in the main research question of the study, which is formulated as follows: How do the church leaders understand and respond to their leadership role within their churches and the community in the supervision of a diversity of issues arising from the pandemic. The study pointed out that the involvement of church leaders in the prevention of HIV and AIDS is generally limited to spiritual and relief work. The only structured program available to the particular local churches, and which has been implemented, is to care for orphans. The position taken in this study is that there is a need for church leaders to develop modern realistic HIV and AIDS educational programs and to train their church members to engage in HIV and AIDS issue.