India responds to AIDS

By on January 1, 2005

New Delhi

Churches in India have taken the lead in initiating an interfaith response to the scourge of HIV/AIDS, which is reaching massive proportions.

“We realize that an interfaith response to HIV/AIDS is very crucial,” the group said in a declaration issued at a Nov. 29-30 AIDS conference, jointly organized in New Delhi by the Church of North India and the National Council of Churches in India.

“The size, scale and speed of this pandemic has compelled us to come together on one platform despite our differences in faith and belief,” said the declaration. The conference included an interfaith session in which Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Muslim and Sikh leaders expressed readiness to move with the churches in the fight against the AIDS pandemic.

India’s National AIDS Control Organization has acknowledged there are 5.1 million HIV/AIDS infections at present, although non-governmental organizations and health experts say this estimate is far below the actual numbers. This would give the world’s second most populous nation the highest HIV/AIDS total of any country.

Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, a leading Muslim cleric in New Delhi, told the conference that AIDS called for a response “beyond medicines.” He said the disease was rooted in “immoral behaviour,” asserting “through religion, we can cure the society by educating our youth on sticking to the moral teachings.”

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