“AIDS has no religion”, says Param Pujya Sri Sri Ravishankar ji, founder of The Art of Living. AIDS might affect the physical body but it cannot hamper the spirit.
The Art of Living organized a two day Inter-Faith Summit on HIV/AIDS along with the Assam State Aids Control Society (ASACS) in Guwahati on February 19, 2010. The summit was attended by religious leaders from across state, who pledged to spread awareness against HIV/AIDS.
"People believe in religious leaders. If they decide to shoulder the responsibility, I think they can bring about a lot of change", asserted Ashish Bhutani, GMDA Commissioner and Secretary.
Religious leaders of all faiths from various parts of the state took part in the convention and discussed ways not only for the prevention of HIV/AIDS but also for removal of the social stigma attached to people living with HIV/AIDS. “There is a lot of HIV and AIDS related stigma and discrimination in the society. We have to join hands to do away with this discrimination against HIV and AIDS patients so that they can live with dignity”, said Hagjer Barman, Project Director of ASACS.
The convention was also attended by the Assam health commissioner and secretary, Prateek Hajela who believed that prevention was the best way to root out AIDS from the world. “There are about 5,000 people in Assam infected with HIV and approximately 1,277 AIDS patients. We can prevent the spread of this deadly disease by spreading awareness among people about this disease”, he added.
“Initially, we started our mission in 2008. Since then gradually we have stepped up our campaign. With the participation of all we will be able to throw away AIDS from society”, said Swami Divyananda of The Art of Living.
The Art of Living believes in the message of love and humanity to deal with people infected with the HIV. It organized a similar event “Faith in Action” last September with over 500 religious leaders of various faiths from all across the country. National AIDS Control Association (NACO) after seeing the success of the summit has collaborated with the Art of Living to undertake the task of assessing various religious scriptures and analyze how these can be used in addressing the HIV pandemic. It also plans on taking the inter-faith summit to other states. The Art of Living has also worked tirelessly to train rural youth to spread awareness about the infection in the villages.