197191 Partners in HIV Prevention and Stigma Reduction: Islamic Leaders Promote HIV Education through Religious Schools in Indonesia

Monday, November 9, 2009: 8:30 AM

Britt L. Herstad, MA , Futures Group International, Washington, DC
Claudia Surjadjaja, Dr , Health Policy Initiative, Task Order 1, Indonesia/Futures Group International, Jakarta, Indonesia
Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, with about 88% of its total population of 220 million following Islam. While national Islamic leaders have committed their support to the National AIDS Strategy; HIV and AIDS are still largely treated as a moral problem at the community level. In response, the USAID | Health Policy Initiative (HPI) mobilized a cadre of Islamic leaders and partnered with them to encourage leaders at the community level to disseminate accurate, compassionate, non-stigmatizing HIV information. A significant recent success has been the decision of Islamic leaders to integrate HIV into the existing curricula for secondary and high schools in East Java's religious-based schools. HPI is working with Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, two largest Islamic organizations in the country, to design the curricula.

Islamic schools have tremendous reach in Muslim communities because they offer an academic education that provides students the skills to cope with a globalized world, yet does so within a distinct Islamic environment. Integrating HIV and other health topics into this existing curriculum will pave the way for openly discussing sensitive issues in Muslim communities, especially regarding HIV prevention, drug use, and sex education, which are omitted from the current curriculum. By incorporating sensitive issues into Islamic curricula, Muslim students will be equipped with knowledge on how to be responsible and informed adults, and, thus, shall be better able to respond to the many issues and realities of social complexities whilst participating in and understanding the pluralistic society they live in.

Initially, the idea of a secular, USG-funded project gaining the trust of Islamic community leaders was a daunting challenge because HIV is often framed in the context of ideological poles of Western liberalism (HIV is seen as a result of free sex) and Islamic values. However, meaningful collaboration, open dialogue, respect for different belief systems, and mobilizing “policy champions” within the Islamic community formed a successful advocacy formula to earn trust, optimize partnerships, and gain commitment to enable Muslim communities' improved access to correct information and comprehensive knowledge to help prevent and tackle HIV and AIDS in Indonesia.

Learning Objectives:
This presentation will explore successful advocacy strategies to gain the consensus and commitment of influential community leaders to address HIV. By the end of this presentation, participants will be able to understand how advocacy, policy dialogue, participatory methods, and sensitization can mobilize faith-based leaders to promote a comprehensive HIV response.

Keywords: HIV Interventions, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I work on the same project and have contributed to the activity methodology.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.