Dispensing Spiritual Capital: Faith-Based Responses to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Nigeria

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Adeboye, O.
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Faculty of Art Monograph Series, University of Lagos
The Nigerian HIV/AIDS situation has been generating considerable concern within several sectors of the society lately. With the number of infected people estimated at almost four million, Nigeria has the third largest number of HIV/AIDS infections in the whole world (after India and South Africa). While government has adopted various strategies to battle the epidemic, it has also repeatedly called for support from the faith-based community, among other groups and stakeholders. It is the response of the Christian section of the Nigerian faith community to this call that is the concern of this paper. The paradigm of ‘spiritual capital’ is used here to capture the uniquely faith-based nature of the spiritual resource that underlies the positive response emanating from the faith community. But not all faith groups have positive responses. The mould of religious dogma and legalism made several groups to remain unsympathetic to the cause of those infected with the virus. The interventions of groups that show concern are in three main areas, namely, prevention campaign, provision of care and support, and the mitigation of the socio-political and economic impact of the epidemic. This study used three faith-based organizations as its case studies: the Catholic Church, Hope Worldwide Nigeria, and the Redeemed AIDS Program Action Committee (RAPAC); and covers the period from 1986 to 2005. A major finding of this study is that Christian intervention in the Nigerian AIDS crisis, though welcome, is presently neither deep-rooted nor widespread. Theological rigidity remains an ever-present impediment in the way of effective Christian intervention. The study therefore calls, among other things, for a revision of certain theologies along lines that favour the weak, the sick and the suffering. After-all, spiritual capital is a grace to which FBOs lay claim, and this should be generously dispensed in favour of those who need it.
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Spiritual capital , Christianity , HIV/AIDS , care and support
Adeboye, O. Dispensing Spiritual Capital: Faith-Based Responses to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Nigeria (Faculty of Art Monograph Series, University of Lagos, No. 6, Dec 2007)