Bahrain Launches Campaign To Involve Religious Leaders in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Officials in Bahrain have launched a wide-scale campaign aimed at involving religious leaders in the country's fight against HIV/AIDS, the Gulf Daily News reports. The announcement was made Wednesday at a forum attended by more than 40 Islamic and Christian religious leaders and convened by the United Nations Development Programme to discuss the role of religion in addressing HIV/AIDS. According to UNDP analyst and HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator Ali Salman Saleh, the number of HIV/AIDS cases reported in Arab countries has increased by 300% during the past three years. U.N. resident representative Sayed Aqa said that there are more than 460,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the region, and 36,000 deaths from AIDS-related illnesses were reported last year in the region. Saleh said that the "staggering rate of increase is mainly due to factors like ignorance, lack of awareness, denial and misinterpretation of facts." He added that UNAIDS and the Regional Program on AIDS in Arab States next month will hold separate workshops for male and female religious leaders to train them on "how to undertake an effective campaign on a religious perspective." According to Aqa, Bahrain needs to take efforts to prevent the spread of HIV to the general population. "This is where we believe religious leaders can and should play an active role," he said, adding, "We strongly believe in [the] partnership of religious leaders and scholars with the U.N., the government, the nongovernmental organizations and the private sector companies to combat HIV/AIDS in Bahrain" (Baby, Gulf Daily News, 3/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.