Preaching on HIV/AIDS Prevention Becomes Popular for Muslim Mullahs in West China's Ningxia Region
August 30, 2005
This year, Muslims in west China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region have begun hearing their local mullahs preach about HIV/AIDS prevention. Earlier this year, 130 religious leaders from 43 mosques took a UNICEF course on HIV/AIDS prevention and care that mullahs can incorporate into their religious activities.
UNICEF sponsors the program in Ningxia, where Muslims represent 34.9 percent of the population, and also utilizes Buddhist monks in Yunnan province. By supporting faith-based responses to HIV/AIDS, UNICEF hopes to improve the effectiveness of AIDS awareness messages and foster community care and support in low-prevalence settings.
"People are quite impressed by the HIV/AIDS knowledge conveyed to them during religious activities," said Yang Guoyao, a director of a local mosque and participant in the program. The messages are especially targeted to youths. Of Ningxia's 61 reported HIV cases, 33 percent were ages 20-30; 58 percent of Ningxia's cases were infected through injection drug use; and 15 percent were infected sexually.
Mosques are taking key first steps by teaching youths to know how HIV spreads and to perceive HIV/AIDS as a concern, said Ann M. Veneman, a UNICEF official who recently watched one of Yang's HIV/AIDS lectures. So far, Ningxia's religious leaders have reached some 492,000 people with HIV/AIDS messages and distributed 200,000 copies of educational materials, said UNICEF sources.
Xinhua News Agency
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.