Buddhism Supports AIDS Prevention
(CHAKRA) Buddhism is playing a key role in China to help prevent the spread of AIDS. Several Buddhist monks have created a plan to promote the awareness of HIV and have also found ways to support people carrying the virus in Xishuangbanna Dai located in the Yunnan province of China.
One of the programs launched by the Buddhist community in China is the Home of Buddha Glory program known as HBG. The program was first launched in 2003 with the support of UNICEF. It offers a place to regularly gather at in the Zongfo Monastery. People of many faiths join the discussion whether they have the virus or not to listen to each other and the monks preach words of wisdom.
One of the attendees stated that she has learned to be much more positive by learning to accept the disease and move forward. According to her, learning from the monks has helped her to live a more positive life with space for much more happiness than she initially felt.
Du Hanting, Deputy Abbot of the monastery said that the disease leaves a huge burden on individuals with it as well as their families. Children have to face the loss of parents and absence of care when their parents are diagnosed HIV positive. Families are left poorer and carry extensive societal burdens, which they are not able to express to anyone. A part of the monk’s role is to inform the public of how the virus can be contracted as well as to help individuals to cope with the anxiety and stress that comes with finding out they have the virus. The main issue the monks are attempting to deal with is the issue of AIDS being a taboo, leading families to disown their loved ones due to shame.
Du Hanting said that the monks join families for dinner to discuss AIDS more thoroughly with the patient as well so that they become aware of how the disease is contracted and do not think the virus can be transmitted through air.
The monks also hold HIV education classes in rural areas to better inform the rural communityof how AIDS is transmitted. Since sex is a taboo topic for monks to discuss, they discuss the spiritual aspects of how to deal with AIDS while the secular members of the group discuss the sex-related content of the teachings. Furthermore, to make illiterate and uneducated individuals who have little excess to education, the HBG is creating dvd’s which have songs and visual aids to help anyone understand the risks of AIDS and prevention methods.
The program thus far has been very successful and the members are continuing to spread ‘positivity’ with a positive attitude.