Church Leaders Pledge To Fight Spread Of HIV

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Fourteen church leaders in Lesotho have signed a declaration pledging to fight the spread of HIV in the country, UNAIDS said on Wednesday in Maseru, Lesotho, AFP/Yahoo! Newsreports. According to UNAIDS and the National AIDS Commission, anestimated 29,000 new HIV cases occurred in Lesotho in 2007, bringingthe total number of cases to more than 270,000. Of the total cases,16,000 occur among children younger than age 14, according to theagencies.

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Under the declaration, church leaders pledged topromote the equality, dignity and rights of all people, especiallythose living with HIV/AIDS. They also pledged to discuss openlyHIV/AIDS and prevention methods, as well as to reject statements thatassociate the disease with a form of "divine punishment." The Rev.Daniel Rantle of the Methodist Church of Africa said, "This is thefirst time that the ecumenical society has spoken out with one powerfulvoice, and we are strategically placed to reach people from all walksof life and be catalysts for positive and lasting action."

TheRev. Mokhakhlane, spokesperson for the church leaders, in a statementsaid, "The tragic toll of the AIDS epidemic brings compelling urgencyto the call for a renewed commitment by religious leaders to achieveuniversal access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care andsupport, as well as impact mitigation" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 7/11).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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