Today marks the twenty-first World Aids Day, yet despite a massive growth in knowledge of the infection, its transmission and its treatment, people continue to become infected. Robert Pigott, Religious Affairs Correspondent for the BBC has looked at the problems faced by many religious communities when it comes to propagating the safe sex message, particularly when such a message may conflict with the religious tenets.
For some religious groups the idea of promoting the use of condoms is tantamount to encouraging promiscuous or immoral behaviour. Unfortunately, in the case of HIV and AIDS, if groups and individuals are left ignorant of the risks involved, the infection will continue to spread. Indeed, many groups have accused religion of increasing the stigma attached to the disease, by their refusal to even discuss ways of avoiding infection. With the UN publishing statistics suggesting that Britain has double the rate of infection of any other western European country, it would seem that more effort needs to be made in getting the message across.
Some examples of good practice can be seen in the work Imam Mohamed Bashir is undertaking at the North Brixton Mosque. Rather than simply focusing on the idea that AIDS ‘is a taboo, this is a sin, a punishment from Allah’, Bashir recognises that his congregation has varying needs, but above all they have to provided with the information.
Ultimately, AIDS with its clear links to sexual behaviour, is always going to be a difficult subject for religion to tackle. But it seems that with understanding on all sides, together with the necessary knowledge and will we may perhaps see an end to this global pandemic.
Modern Qur’anic Hermeneutics
By Erik Ohlander
(Vol. 4, May 2009)
Islam in the Age of Globalization
By Bruce Lawrence
(Vol. 3, May 2008)
By Brooke Grundfest Schoepf
From A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics