Addis Ababa April 24/2013 Religious leaders need to play key role in their communities with their faith based leadership and commitment to move people forward to taking action in a response to demand for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, the Ethiopian Interfaith Forum for Development, Dialogue and Action (EIFDDA) said.
Program Department Head with EIFDDA, Yonas Jerenie said at a relevant forum that 20 per cent of the people living with HIV/AIDS are exposed to stigma and discrimination.
Yonas said people living with HIV/AIDS face problems from neighbors, friends and colleagues.
He also stressed the need for integrated activities on part of all religious institutions in this regard.
Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC), Abune Mathias on his part said the prevailing stigma and discrimination is due to the complexity and absence of proper awareness on the issue.
He said lack of knowledge, non reasonable fear, and lack of transparency are some of the challenges to fully give the necessary service to people living with HIV/AIDS.
Abune Mathias stressed the need for religious institutions to strengthen efforts to prevent stigma and discrimination.
HIV and AIDS campaign officer with Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Ruth Foley on her part said religious leaders need to create massive agendas and dialogues for discussion to combat HIV/AIDS amongst the community.
The two-day forum is organized by Network of Networks of HIV Positives.