Magazine article The Christian Century

Religious Leaders in Arab Nations Launch AIDS Response Group

Magazine article The Christian Century

Religious Leaders in Arab Nations Launch AIDS Response Group

Article excerpt

More than 300 religious leaders have signed up to form a new network of Muslim and Christian groups from 20 Arab countries, responding as a "united force" to the mounting prevalence of HIV/AIDS in their region.

The First Network of Arab Religious Leaders Responding to AIDS was launched in Cairo on November 9 under the acronym CHAHAMA.

"We have developed a plan of action to urgently respond to what is amounting to a region living on the brink of an epidemic," said Hady Aya, an Antonin Maronite cleric and founder of the Organization for Justice and Mercy in Lebanon.

UN figures show that Arab countries have one of the fastest growing HIV infection rates in the world due to heightened risk factors stemming from armed conflict, gender disparity and poverty. According to the UN data, every 10 minutes someone is infected with HIV in Arab states, and women now make up half of those infected.

"The motto for CHAHAMA is 'Religions in the Service of Humanity. …

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