Reverend J P Heath, an Anglican Priest from Johannesburg, South Africa has said that HIV positive religious leaders bear massive social stigma, which may sometimes be more than that suffered by the general public.
"Religious leaders living with HIV face double the stigma, double the discrimination", said Reverend J P Heath. "I have faced much stigma."
AdvertisementRev Heath founded INERELA+, an international network of religious leaders; lay and ordained, living with HIV. He said that in most cases the stigma arises because of the perception that HIV is only spread by immoral sex.
"I have always been asked how I contracted HIV. The fear is that you will be rejected. I feared I would be kicked out", he said.
While his Bishop advised silence, Rev Heath has spoken out and is also trying to help fellow sufferers.