S. Asian religious leaders meet in India to fight AIDS.
Religious leaders from across South Asia kicked off a three-day meeting here Friday to discuss measures aimed at combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic through inter-faith consensus and coordinated action in the region.
The South Asian Inter-Religious Council on HIV/AIDS is to discuss the role of religion in HIV/AIDS prevention, developing joint strategies, interaction with various agencies and raising awareness of the disease.
Thirty people are attending from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The meeting is supported by the U.N. Children's Fund and the World Conference of Religions for Peace.
''The council aims to strengthen and accelerate the work of religious leaders of major faiths in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support,'' said Akhtarul Wasey, the organizer of SAIRC.
Though there are few faith-based organizations acting as powerful resources in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Asia, many more religious leaders need to be engaged to reduce and end the stigma and ignorance that feeds the epidemic, Wasey said.
Ian Macleod, UNICEF's regional adviser on HIV/AIDS, said South Asia is at cross-roads in its fight against HIV/AIDS.
''The region is home to over 5.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Decisions made now by leaders at all levels of society including religious leaders will determine whether countries can successfully control and reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS,'' Macleod said.
The South Asia Inter-Faith Consultation on Children, Young People and HIV/AIDS held in Kathmandu in December last year pledged to strengthen efforts of religious communities across the region to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic. SAIRC was formed as a part of that effort.
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|Publication:||Asian Economic News|
|Date:||Nov 24, 2004|
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