In June, the African Religious Leaders Assembly on Children and HIV/AIDS met in Nairobi at the request of the Hope for African Children Initiative and the World Conference of Religions and Peace. The multifaith gathering, with more than 120 representatives from 30 countries, convened to look at the role of religious leaders in fighting AIDS.
"Through our silence and denial, we have contributed to increased stigma and exclusion of people living with HIV/ AIDS," said Twaib Mukuye, deputy mufti of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, "but as spiritual leaders we are here to publicly launch a continent-wide jihad on AIDS."
Hajia Katoumi Mahama, of Ghana's Women Muslim Association, pushed the issue farther. "We call on our governments to abolish school fees and immediately withhold debt servicing payments to the World Bank, IMF, and wealthy G-8 governments," she challenged, "and to commit these resources to eradicate poverty and implement HIV/AIDS interventions. We call on the G-8 to donate $7-to-10 billion this year to stop AIDS." There are 28.1 million people living with AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.