Written By: Observer staff
Article Date: Jun 24, 2008 - 3:33:37 AM
Sheikh Jabri Ibrahim addresses his audience, providing Islamic views towards people living with HIV/AIDS.
To reduce stigma and discrimination against people suffering from from HIV/AIDS, Pogressio and the Interaction in Development Foundation in coordination with the Local Council, conducted a training workshop for 25 religious preachers (Imams and khateebs) as well as female religious health guides over three days, June 16-18, in Sana’a.
The workshop aimed to build the capacity of such people in the prevention of HIV/ AIDS and also in reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with it, on the basis that religious leaders could play a vital role in creating awareness in terms of prevention and care, and in providing support for people that have this virus.
“It is very important 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 against people living with this virus,” said Irfan Akhtar, HIV/AIDS Coordinator of Progressio, a UK-based international organization working for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.
“That is why this training strived to build the capacity of Imams and female religious guides to reach out to their community members through mosques and religious means, because religious leaders are essential actors in a successful response to HIV/AIDS. They can also play a major role in shaping social values and norms, which are critical to ending stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS,” he said.
The participants received basic training on how to deal with HIV/AIDS issues and on ways to communicate the right messages to the public in order to reduce stigma and discrimination against people that have HIV/AIDS.
The trainers employed various interactive techniques to ensure active participation by all the participants. Each session was based on presentations, role plays, discussions and group work. The participants were divided into many groups to brainstorm, express ideas, and reach consensus on different issues. The groups presented the results of their discussions in a plenary session, which was followed by a discussion to clarify issues.
Many lectures were given throughout the training workshop’s days. Sheikh Jabri Ibrahim, a well known preacher, facilitated a session on HIV/AIDS from the perspective of Islam, which helped the participants to understand aspects of Islamic teachings in responding to HIV/AIDS. He also talked about stigma and discrimination against people that have such virus, emphasizing that they should be given care and support and be treated with respect and dignity.
Another session was facilitated by Dr. Akhtar. The session started by showing a short film which depicted stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS in a community. A discussion was generated to help understand stigma and discrimination, its causes and impacts in Yemen.
Stigma against people that carry this virus is an attitude that dishonors or shows lack of respect for someone having HIV/AIDS. During Dr. Akhtar’s session, it was also debated that the social stigma attached to HIV/AIDS is playing a negative role in prevention and care for people having HIV/AIDS, as it discourages people from being tested and also forces people carrying the virus to hide their identity.
In this training, one man living with HIV was invited to share the problems, challenges and needs of people living with HIV/AIDS in Yemen; he told the participants about how life can be for him and other people having the same virus, and he shared his fears and hopes, highlighting struggles in which they experienced stigma and discrimination from their community, family or work.
There were many questions to debate and discuss in order to develop common understanding and to deliver positive and non discriminatory messages in the community. Through discussions held by Sheikh Ibrahim, participants reached a positive consensus regarding Islamic teachings. He said that the participation of religious preachers in the response to HIV/AIDS is very important to provide accurate preventing messages and to reduce stigma and discrimination against people that have to deal with HIV/AIDS.
Participants were also assigned to develop prototype sermons or speeches (khutba and lecture), which they can use on Friday and other occasions. Similarly, they were also given a format to develop a work plan which they can individually implement to increase awareness for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and reduce the stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
• Yemen seizes military materiel
• Yemen: Democracy School certified as division of Defense for Children International
• Yemen’s army shells tribal areas after pipeline sabotage
• Sawa’a organization calls for Jewish involvement in Yemen’s National Dialogue
• US aircraft carrying soldiers, equipment lands in Yemen