Religious leaders urged to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 19, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 19, 2008

Religious leaders urged to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS

The speakers at an inter-divisional dialogue here yesterday called on the religious leaders to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and anti-social activities.
Regarded as the most trustworthy and respected persons, religious leaders and teachers have easy access to all classes of people in society, they said.
The religious leaders can explain the sexual behaviour in the light of their respective religions and make the people aware of safe physical relationships to help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the speakers added.
The inter-divisional dialogue titled 'The role of religions in preventing HIV/AIDS and other diseases' was organised at the local circuit house.
Joint Secretary of the religious affairs ministry AHM Afzal Hossain presided over the dialogue attended by religious leaders, intellectuals, academicians and women leaders.
Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong Hossain Jamil was present as the chief guest while Deputy Commissioner Ashraf Shamim was the special guest at the dialogue organised in association with Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, Chittagong division.
The divisional commissioner said, "We have to have a scientific outlook and religious approach to prevent STDs and other disease."
Addressing the dialogue, Afzal Hossain said it was the first inter-religious dialogue the government had organised focusing on HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
He hoped that leaders of different religions and organisations would help the government reach out to the general public and build a healthy nation.
The dialogue scheduled to be held in six divisional cities was also organised simultaneously in Sylhet and Barisal yesterday and it would be finally organised in Dhaka on November 1, he informed.
Dr AFM Khalid Hossain of MES University College in Chittagong, Child Specialist Dr Dilip Dey, Bangladesh Buddha Samity Vice President Prof Jitendra Lal Barua and Dr Sanai Pru Tripura of Leprosy Mission at Khulshi presented keynote papers focusing on the prevention of STDs and other diseases in the light of their respective religions.
They said a total of 3.32 crore people were identified HIV- positives across the globe till the end of 2007. Some 2.01 crore people, including 3.30 lakh children died of AIDS so far, adding that three-forth of these tragic deaths took place in the Sub-Saharan countries in Africa, causing huge losses of human resources and financial growth of the region.
As per the latest UNAIDS statistics of 2007, around 6800 people are being infected with HIV in the world a day, they added.
Some 25 lakh people were infected with HIV only in 2007. Mostly the adolescents and youths aged 15 to 24 years fell victim to AIDS. Socio-economic discrimination and ignorance of religious rules made the young people most vulnerable to these diseases.
Director of Islamic Foundation Chittagong Abul Hyat Md Tareque gave the address of welcome at the dialogue which was also attended by Principal Syed Abu Noman, Prof Anowara Alam, Dr Jin Byodhi Bhixmu, Moulana Ahmudur Rahman, poet and journalist Bishwajit Chowdhury, journalists Helal Humayun and Hasan Akber, Prof Monirul Islam Rafiq and Prof BM Mafizur Rahman.

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