UNICEF Calls on Religious Leaders in Asia-Pacific To Fight HIV-Associated Stigma, Discrimination Among ChildrenUNICEF this week at the Inter-Faith Consultation on Children and HIV Conference in Thailand called on religious leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to fight stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS among children, Thailand's Nation reports.
UNICEF regional adviser Wing-Sie Cheng said that many HIV-positive children in the region had been denied access to basic services, shunned by communities and forced to live in isolation. She added that religious organizations should work to combat HIV-associated discrimination by encouraging communities to respect "principles of compassion, leadership and moral responsibility." Religious groups have the "potential to do much more in reducing" stigma and discrimination, Wing-Sie said, adding they also could work to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention activities.
Asian Interfaith Network on HIV/AIDS Chair Pramaha Boonchuay Doojai added that religious groups should help communities understand HIV/AIDS and help people living with the disease. "People with HIV can spend their life in communities peacefully if religious organization[s] help them to eliminate stigmatization," he said. Lawrence Maund, program director for the faith-based group Sangha Metta, added that his group should expand programs focusing on HIV education and prevention.
About 15,000 people from 10 religious organizations in the Asia-Pacific region are attending the three-day conference, which began on Tuesday. Attendees are expected to discuss their experiences with HIV/AIDS, identify challenges in addressing the disease and build networks in an effort to better serve people living with HIV/AIDS, the Nation reports (Pongphon, Nation, 1/16). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.