African Clerics Meet in Kenya to Discuss How Religious Community Can Help AIDS Orphans
A variety of African religious leaders gathered in Kenya on Sunday for a three-day conference to discuss how the religious community could help fight HIV/AIDS on the continent and help children orphaned by the disease, the Los Angeles Times reports. Many of the 120 conference attendees will visit orphanages run by non-governmental organizations, church groups and individuals to note how these orphanages could be replicated in their own countries. Religious leaders will also be given tutorials on caring for and supporting children who have lost parents to the disease and developing national strategies to lobby on behalf of AIDS patients. There are currently 14 million AIDS orphans -- defined by UNAIDS as children who have lost either a mother or both parents to HIV/AIDS -- in Africa, and the United Nations estimates that there will be 20 million AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa by 2010. U.N. officials say that African religious leaders can play an important role in helping children affected by HIV/AIDS and addressing other "social problems" caused by the disease. UNICEF Director Carol Bellamy said that through churches, mosques and temples, clerics can "disseminate information about how the disease can be treated and prevented." She added that many religious groups also have access to a network of schools, hospitals and social service organizations that could help those affected by HIV/AIDS (Maharaj, Los Angeles Times, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.