HIV testing clinic opens in Walthamstow church
A free HIV testing clinic has opened in a London church in a bid to tackle the high rate of infection in the African community.
Living Flames Baptist Church in Walthamstow opened its doors as part of the Take Action Now campaign by the ActionPlus Foundation.
HIV among Africans in the UK is 30 times higher than the general population, health agencies say.
ActionPlus wants churches to take a leading role in dealing with the issue.
It hopes training programmes to educate church leaders and the introduction of testing clinics in churches can replicate a similar campaign in Ghana, where clinics are held in churches, schools and even nail bars.
The clinic, which is being operated in collaboration with Positive East, an east London HIV charity, is opening to coincide with HIV testing week, which began on 22 November.
The founder of ActionPlus, Pentecostal minister Reverend Fred Annin, said: "The Bible does not condemn people with HIV as cursed.
"It shouldn't be taboo to discuss it in churches. It's a medical condition and people need medical help.
"Prayer cannot bring our health back when we ignore medicine."