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AIDS bias successfully overcome by Indian Muslims in South Africa

Indian Muslims in South Africa who displayed stigmatization and discrimination against AIDS victims, are now becoming open minded about supporting HIV/AIDS patients despite their traditional religious beliefs. //

This was clear when a number of Muslim organisations joined the local branch of the Muslim AIDS Programme (MAP), an NGO operating countrywide, to host an AIDS awareness day here.

The Care Centre run by MAP in Mayfair currently hosts nine adults and eight children suffering from HIV/AIDS and is desperately looking for facilities to extend the service, according to programme manager Razia Kajee.

"We provide a service to anybody, irrespective of their religion or creed, and are definitely seeing an increase in awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic among Muslims," Kajee said.

"While our care is based on an Islamic ethos, we do not impose our religion per se on any of the people in our care. So, for example, while the food we provide may be Halaal and we will not allow alcohol on our premises, you will find Christian patients going to church.

"We promote the principle of abstinence rather than safe sex, as many other organisations do. Our Islamic principles promote chastity until marriage and fidelity in marriage, as such sexual morality will make a positive contribution to the management and prevention of HIV and AIDS among both infected and affected individuals and families."

Besides the Care Centre, MAP has a variety of activities, including regular workshops, educator training and life skills programmes for youth.

--Edited IANS
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