Religious leaders can correct view HIV infection equals immorality
- National AIDS Committee
Stabroek News
December 2, 2003

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The National and Regional AIDS committees (NAC/ RACs) asserted yesterday that popular attitudes remain unshaken in the belief that the major cause of HIV infection is immorality.

And the consequent prejudice, stigma and discrimination towards people living with the virus undermine a whole-hearted commitment to HIV eradication.

The NAC in a news release yesterday added that religious leadership across the faith spectrum bear a responsibility for correcting the view that infection equals immorality. In particular, the NAC/RACs called on religious leaders to use their influence to highlight the large percentage of persons living with HIV/AIDS, particularly women, who have contracted the virus because of their vulnerability to various kinds of male sexual abuse; the number of infected married persons - victims of their partners' infidelity; and children who contracted the virus from positive mothers.

As long as the dominant view that infection equals promiscuity prevails, the effectiveness of programmes in the community, the workplace and in particular with vulnerable sectors such as indigenous people, youth, women, gays, and sex workers will be undercut, the NAC/RACs contended.

As long as the commitment to prevention strategies are restricted by religious, cultural or racial reservations the virus will continue to consume the society, the release stated.

Meanwhile, the winners of the Workplace Recognition Initiative sponsored by the NAC/RACs were scheduled to be awarded plaques yesterday evening at the World AIDS Day concert organized by the Artistes in Direct Support at the National Cultural Centre.

According to the release, there has been a positive response to the Workplace Recognition programme in both the public and private sectors over the past year, and that is heartening as it represents the breaking down of prejudice and intolerance.