Muslim Leaders in Zanzibar Help Fight AIDS, but Won't Promote Condoms
March 13, 2006
The Zanzibar AIDS Commission (ZAC) is working with Muslim leaders in the semi-autonomous, 95 percent Muslim country to fight AIDS, while respecting religious opposition to condoms. Experts say a multipoint strategy against the disease should include abstinence until marriage, monogamy, and correct condom use. Zanzibar has 1,000 HIV/AIDS cases in its population of about 1 million.
"The balance is delicate," said Halima Ali Mohammed, a ZAC official. "It requires a willingness to cooperate between ZAC and religious clerics to recognize that HIV/AIDS is a threat to our society."
Openly endorsing condom use would encourage premarital sex and spousal infidelity, said Fadhil Soraga, an Islamic scholar in Zanzibar. "We share the burden of this deadly disease, but we can't support any immoral action," Soraga said.
ZAC has produced AIDS guidelines for Muslims and Muslim clerics. "Frank education campaigns taking place in Zanzibar [have] helped raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Zanzibar," said Mohammed. But stigma remains a problem, she added. "People are afraid to say that they are HIV-positive or to come for testing. They are shy even to come to health centers to take [AIDS treatment] drugs."
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.