Buddhist leaders throughout Southeast Asia gathered Monday for a five-day conference to discuss how the religion should best respond to the global AIDS crisis, Agence France-Presse reports. More than 60 monks, nuns, and government officials will examine ways to reduce the spread of HIV, particularly in hard-hit areas of Southeastern Asia, and how Buddhist clergy can be more closely involved in HIV prevention work and AIDS cases.
"It is part of the traditional role for monks and nuns to provide a refuge for the people," said supreme patriarch Somdech Tep Von, a Cambodian Buddhist leader. "By taking the Buddha as our example, we can help bring an end to the suffering caused by HIV and AIDS." The conference is cosponsored by UNICEF.