Children living with HIV/AIDS are being cared for at a pagoda in HCM City (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) – The implementation of the Buddhist Leadership Initiative on preventing and combating HIV/AIDS at pagodas in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City was reviewed at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on January 21.

The programme began in 2002 with a view to reducing the discrimination against people living with the HIV/AIDS, especially children, while increasing community-based support for families having HIV/AIDS affected members.

The project has been operating in Ho Chi Minh City , Hanoi , Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang , and Tra Vinh.

Head of the VFF Central Committee’s Department of Religious Affairs Nguyen Van Thanh said the project has helped thousands of HIV-infected people access to community-based assistance services.

Pagodas in the localities where the programme operates, have also increased awareness-raising campaigns among people living with HIV/AIDS and popularised preventive measures.

Those such as Phap Van, Bo De ( Hanoi ); Ky Quang, Dieu Giac, Linh Son, Quang Tho ( Ho Chi Minh City ) have established a network of volunteers to help HIV people.

Le Hong Loan, a UNICEF representative said the engagement of Buddhist associations in the HIV/AIDS prevention has been significant in mitigating HIV/AIDS effects in Vietnam .

During the conference, participants also discussed effective measures to seek financial resources for the expansion of the project.

The Buddhist leadership Initiative is a cooperative programme between the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) and five Asian governments to promote the role played by religious leaders in their community’s response to HIV prevention.-VNA