Three hundred Christian and Muslim religious leaders from 20 Arab countries met in Cairo to launch the region's first faith-based network focused on HIV/AIDS. The Arab states have some of the fastest-growing HIV infection rates in the world; women make up half the infection rate, according to the United Nations. The network will promote chastity and dignity; provide support, spiritual counseling, and care for people living with HIV and their families; highlight the links between HIV/AIDS and development, governance, gender, and human rights; and address the root causes of HIV/AIDS, including poverty, at both the national and regional levels. "We have developed a plan of action to urgently respond to what is amounting to a region living on the brink of an epidemic," said Hady Aya, a Maronite Christian priest from Lebanon, in a press release.
In May 2006, the first HIV/AIDS training for female religious leaders in the Arab region was held in Tripoli, Libya. Eighty women leaders signed a declaration focusing, from a religious perspective, on the rights of women and children to protect themselves from HIV infection.