International Meeting Urges Religious Groups to Back HIV/AIDs Struggle

August 24, 2007

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Ekklesia/Ecumenical News International

An international interfaith conference on HIV/AIDS has called on religious leaders to use their places of worship, and educational and health facilities to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS - writes Anto Akkara.

"We acknowledge that we have not done enough in this area, and have at times contributed to their (those living with HIV/AIDS) sense of exclusion and stigmatisation," participants said in a statement during the 17 to 19 August International Interfaith Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

More than 200 Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Muslim delegates from across Asia attended the conference of the theme, "Response of Faith Communities to HIV and AIDS - Have We Kept the Promise?"

The event was jointly organized by the Asian Interfaith Network on AIDS, the Christian Conference of Asia, and the Geneva-based Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, which is linked to the World Council of Churches.

The interfaith gathering, held ahead of the secular 19-23 August eighth Asia Pacific AIDS conference, also taking place in Colombo, declared that the Asian Interfaith Network on AIDS, along with HIV/AIDS groups in faith communities, will develop "tools to train the leadership".

The organizers explained this would enable faith organizations to "be effective public voices for raising awareness and reducing the stigma and discrimination so often associated with HIV and AIDS".