Monday 23rd of May 2022
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S.Africa Muslims Urged to Fight AIDS

S.Africa Muslims Urged to Fight AIDS

As the virus is killing thousands every year, South African Muslims are being urged to break silence about the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus inside their community.


As the virus is killing thousands every year, South African Muslims are being urged to break silence about the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus inside their community.

“For a long time, our Muslim community has preferred to ignore the problem of HIV/AIDS,” Raoul Ridwaan Swart, director of Positive Muslims, an organization supporting people infected with the virus told IOL.

“Others think HIV & AIDS does not exist among them."

A survey by Positive Muslims in three predominantly Muslim suburbs in Cape Town found that 2.5 percent of Muslim inhabitants were HIV positive.

“We were extremely shocked after finding 2.56% of our community members were HIV positive,” Swat said.

“I wish to appeal to our Muslim community to end their silence and denial on this pandemic.

“HIV/AIDS is a reality and we need to speak out, before it penetrates deeper into our community.”

South Africa has one of the highest HIV prevalence rate in sub-Saharan Africa, with some 5.2 million people infected with HIV.

About half a million people died of the virus last year.

Last year, estimates by the National Antenatal HIV and Syphilis Prevalence based on blood samples from 34,000 pregnant women measured HIV prevalence at 29.3 percent.

Prevalence among women aged 15 to 24 declined slightly from 22.1 percent in 2007 to 21.7 percent in 2008.

But the infection rate among women in the 30 to 34 age group rose from 39.6 percent in 2007 to 40.4 percent in 2008.

Age was found to be the most important risk factor, with women of 22 years or older significantly more likely to be HIV-infected.

In this age group, race was the next most important factor, with 37.6 percent of African women infected, compared to 6.8 percent of white, Asian and coloured women.

The AIDS virus infected an estimated 33 million people globally and has killed 25 million since it was identified in the 1980s.

It destroys immune cells and exposes the body to opportunistic disease.

Estimates show that there are 33.2 million people infected with the HIV virus around the world, two-thirds of them live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Swart said the HIV/AID could be contracted from blood transfusion, illicit relationships or rape, which is a wide spread criminal activity in South Africa.

"I respect the teachings of Islam about no premarital sex, but this should not mean that all Muslims have stuck to this rule,” he said.

“Some of our youth engage in sex before marriage, while some married couples engage in extra marital affairs.

“This is risky behavior and as a community we need to stop the silence and speak about it, so that we eliminate the risk of HIV & AIDS before it penetrates deeper in our community.”

Swart believes the use of condoms could be a favourable solution to prevent the spread of the virus.

"Let me not be mistaken for promoting promiscuous behaviour,” he said.

“What I'm saying here is condoms can be used by married couples who are HIV positive so as to avoid re-infection, or if they are not sure of their statuses. While on the other hand, unmarried people who are sexually active, especially the youth, we advise you to abstain.”

A research conducted by Positive Muslims in three predominately Muslim suburbs in Cape Town found that 33.4 percent of respondents see condoms as unnatural.

Some 10.4 percent of respondents believed imported condoms from overseas were contaminated with the HIV/AIDS.

Some 44.2 percent of Muslims respondents said married people should not use condoms.

“I think Muslims should change their perspectives, if they are to succeed in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

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