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Workshop Aims to Help Muslim Leaders in Yemen Address HIV/AIDS, Reduce Stigma

June 25, 2008

The Interaction in Development Foundation and the United Kingdom-based nongovernmental organization Pogressio in coordination with a local religious council in Sana'a, Yemen, recently held a three-day workshop for 25 Muslim religious leaders and health guides aimed at reducing HIV/AIDS-associated stigma and discrimination, the Yemen Observer reports.

The workshop aimed to increase participants' ability to help in HIV prevention activities and projects aimed at reducing stigma. The participants received interactive training in handling HIV/AIDS issues and on communicating messages to the public that can help reduce stigma and discrimination. In addition, the participants brainstormed different ways to address HIV/AIDS within their congregations and developed outlines of sermons that discuss HIV/AIDS-related issues.

Irfan Akhtar, HIV/AIDS coordinator for Pogressio, said that it is important for religious leaders to "understand and address HIV/AIDS as a social, economic and a development issue, through Islamic teachings that provide a highly relevant framework for HIV/AIDS prevention and thus can reduce stigma and discrimination." He added that religious leaders can "play a major role in shaping social values and norms, which are critical to ending stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS" (Yemen Observer, 6/24).

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