A free HIV testing clinic will open in a London church today in a bid to tackle the higher rate of infection in the African community.
Living Flames Baptist Church on Fulbourne Road in Walthamstow will open its doors as part of the Take Action Now campaign by the ActionPlus Foundation.
Cases of HIV among Africans in the UK are 30 times higher than the general population, and ActionPlus believes churches have a central role in dealing with the problem.
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 runs from November 22 to 29.
The founder of ActionPlus, Pentecostal minister Rev 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."
The Take Action Now campaign was launched at the Mountain Movers Chapel International in Southwark last Sunday.