Islamic Relief (IR) has joined forces with 13 other humanitarian organisations to launch a new HIV-fund.
The international fund will help to prevent the spread of HIV by working to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with the disease and is the first HIV fund that has focused its work on Muslim communities.
“Traditionally, the Muslim community argued that ‘this is not a Muslim problem’,” said Wafaa’ Sadek, coordinator for the International Fund for HIV.
“This attitude has led to stigmatisation of HIV amongst Muslim communities and has not tackled the root causes of the problem,” she added. The 14 organisations - which include the Qatar Charity, Qatar Red Crescent, IICO Kuwait and WAMY - will use the fund to support HIV-related projects, with initial priorities including educating Muslim religious leaders about HIV and working to reduce individuals’ vulnerability to infection.
“We are not interested in ‘criminalising’ individuals or their behaviour as has been done in the past, as this will not make HIV disappear. We want to get beyond this and look at the reasons why people are or become vulnerable to HIV and what support we as the Muslim community can offer them,” Sadek said.
The establishment of the international fund came as the result of a highly successful series of consultations on Islam and HIV, organised by IR and held in South Africa at the end of 2007.
During these consultations religious leaders, non-governmental organisations, medical practitioners and people living with HIV came together to discuss various topics associated with HIV. As Muslim organisations have largely been absent from the fight against HIV, it was proposed that a new Muslim fund be set up to support HIV-related projects.
“The setting up of this fund is just the beginning of the journey. We hope that in the coming months and years more and more Muslim and non-Muslim organisations will realise HIV is an issue that affects all of us, and will become engaged in the fight against it,” said Sadek. For more information on the fund contact Ms. Wafaa’ Sadek (email@example.com).
For more information on IR’s policy on HIV/AIDS click here.