For the first time in the Arab world, Muslim and Christian clerics from 20 countries have together launched a project to tackle HIV/AIDS in their societies.
Announced at the end of the four-day Regional Forum for Religious Leaders on AIDS, the scheme aims to break the stigma attached the disease in the Arab world as well as provide medical support and counseling for HIV patients and their families.
"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 Father Hady Aya, a conference delegate from the Maronite Church in Lebanon, where he works for the Justice and Mercy organization.
"AIDS has ravaged my people for years," said Rania Abdel Rahman, an activist from Sudan. "I don't want to see this monster do the same to the region. We have to stop it."