Niger's Religious Leaders To Prevent Spread Of HIV

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Catholic, Muslim and Protestant religious leaders in Niger have formedan alliance to teach youth in the country about HIV/AIDS, Reutersreports. The alliance aims to help the government fight the spread ofthe virus by promoting HIV tests and through better integration ofHIV-positive people into society.

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According to Reuters,95% of Niger's population is Muslim, and Islamic leaders have a largeinfluence over the country's population. Religious Affairs MinisterLabo Issaka said that religious groups are "ideally placed to influencepeople's values and behavior" because of "their impact on communitiesand households, and the way they are organized and present on theground."

According to Reuters, about half ofNiger's population is under age 15. About 1% of the population ages 15to 49 is HIV-positive, according to United Nations estimates. AlthoughNiger's HIV prevalence is low in comparison to many other sub-SaharanAfrican countries, the country's population is growing rapidly, whichcould lead to an increase in HIV cases, and government officials havepledged not to be complacent.

Earlier this summer, governmentofficials set up 40 medical centers in the country's capital, Niamey,where people can receive no-cost HIV tests. About 9,000 young peoplecame forward to be tested, but authorities had anticipated 22,000,according to Reuters. HIV/AIDS prevention education isdifficult in Niger because less than half of children attend school,and eight in 10 adults are illiterate, Reuters reports (Massalatchi, Reuters, 8/6).

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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