Monks To Teach About HIV

Buddhist morality can help protect people vulnerable to HIV/ AIDS from contracting the disease, monks say, and now they are beginning a campaign to use spirituality to fight the disease.

At least 40 monks, nuns and laypersons have gathered at Sampov Meas pagoda for a 10-day workshop aimed at spreading Buddhist ideas to protect people from HIV/AIDS. The workshop, funded by Unicef and the Minis­try of Cults and Religion, began Thursday and ends Dec 1.

Dr Mey Nay, a consultant to the Unicef HIV/AIDS project, said that Buddhism’s emphasis on pure deeds and actions could play an important role in preventing the spread of HIV infection. “Now our country is ill, but Buddhism could save it,” he told participants in the workshop.

Prak Niv, a monk from Wat Botum, agreed that monks could act as “morality doctors” to give hope to victims.

“We have heartened them and persuaded them not to be hopeless in their lives,” he said, adding that the monks also teach hy­giene.

Cambodia has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in Asia—an estimated 2.8 percent of adults are infected. According to the National Center for HIV/ AIDS, 533 AIDS deaths were reported in 2000.


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