Leading religious figures from the Arab world are attending the meeting, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Bringing together leaders from both the Muslim and Christian faiths, the meeting aims at adopting a declaration, urging religious leaders to fight the spread of HIV/Aids.
Shaikh Mansour Eidah Al Manhali, Director, Islamic Affairs Division and Shaikh Mohammed Sherrif from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs are representing the UAE.
The meeting has stressed the need to activate a response, enhance political commitment and engage the civil society in order to stop the spread of the epidemic.
According to the latest figures on the Aids epidemic published by Joint United Nations Programme on Aids (UNAids) this month, there are 92,000 new HIV cases in the Arab region. The number of people living with the virus in the Arab states is estimated at 540,000 and the infection rate is rising each year.
Stressing the important role of religious leaders, Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, stated: “We have to act now and not tomorrow. We look up to our religious leaders to open the doors and establish the effective movement required to tackle the diseases.”
In the UAE, statistics show that infection is kept at a very low level due to the local cultural as well as social and behavioural Islamic norms. According to World Health Organisations Statistics, UAE is among the countries with the lowest number of reported HIV/Aids cases in he world.
However, there is fear that the number will grow, like in all other Arab countries, unless swift and serious action is taken.The meeting will draw a final version to develop a comprehensive action plan and mobilise different faith-based organisations in response to HIV/Aids and to contribute evenly and actively to fight against the spread of the virus.
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