AIDS monies and the NGO-isation of Catholic response to HIV and AIDS in South Africa between 2000 and 2005: a histo-critical perspective
Joshua, Stephen Muoki
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At the beginning of 2000, the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) mentioned 61 programmes that were concerned with the treatment and care of AIDS patients. Most of them were poorly funded and heavily dependent on the gifts of parishioners as well as their voluntary labour. The SACBC AIDS Office did not have even a single consistent financial sponsor. Its annual budget was less than six thousand US dollars (USD). Five years later (2005), the situation had changed considerably. There were 200 care projects targeting mainly orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), 40 home-based care programmes, 22 ARV roll-out centres attending to 3000 AIDS patients, and about 30 different financial sponsors. The SACBC AIDS Office’s annual budget had grown to approximately two million USD. Not only did the entire way of responding to HIV and AIDS change during the five-year period (2000—2005) but, most importantly, that response to HIV and AIDS had a huge impact on the Southern African Catholic Church as an institution. This article critically analyses this influence of AIDS money on the Catholic Church’s response to HIV and AIDS. It argues that NGO-isation, an influence of AIDS monies on the Church’s response to HIV and AIDS, directly impacted on the identity, activities, and organisation of the church’s response to the epidemic. This NGO-isation was a reactionary move on the part of institutional Catholicism in response to changing religiosity in Africa as a result of secularism.