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UNICEF Iran launches book for religious leaders on HIV/AIDS prevention

Tehran, 19 December 2007 – A publication aimed at informing religious leaders about HIV/AIDS epidemic will be launched today by UNICEF Iran and Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education at a launching event at The National Library in Tehran.

“What can we, religious leaders, do in response to HIV/AIDS?” is the title of the 100-page booklet, which highlights the social role of religious scholars with regard to the response by the community to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and includes practical recommendations based on Quranic and Shia religious references.

The publication was written by a team of academics from Imam Sadeq University, headed by Dr Hessamoddin Ashena, an Islamic scholar and professor, together with several health professionals from the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, as well as scholars from Mofid University in Qom.

“Religious leaders play a central role in mobilizing communities and framing a social response to HIV/AIDS”, said Christian Salazar, UNICEF’s Representative in Iran. “Their messages can help reduce the stigma and discrimination that are still hallmarks of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

The booklet clearly defines different roles of religious leaders as personal counselors, community organizers, role models, support providers, institutional resource mobilizers or behaviour change agents to help increase the preventative work, as well as treatment, care and support about HIV/AIDS. It is hoped that the publication will help advocate for a comprehensive Islamic approach to tackling the epidemic in Iran.



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