Purpose: This qualitative descriptive study explored Muslim religious leaders' perception, knowledge and attitudes towards AIDS, AIDS prevention and their attitudes towards people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
Methods: Twenty Islamic religious leaders (males and females) participated in two audio-taped focus group discussions. A content analysis approach was used to analyse the data as appropriate for descriptive qualitative inquiry.
Findings: The study results showed that Muslim religious leaders do not perceive AIDS as a major health problem in Jordan, and that following the Islamic values lowers the risky behaviours. The religious leaders reflected varied responses to PLWHA but they agreed that they have responsibilities towards the prevention of HIV/AIDS, and that sex education contributes to healthy behaviours, and consequently to the prevention of HIV transmission.
Conclusion: The findings of this study provided an insight into Muslim religious leaders' perception of PLWHA and highlighted the importance of their role in the prevention of AIDS. The study recommended that health care professionals, including nurses and health policy makers, should involve religious leaders in all efforts directed at planning and setting policies aimed at the prevention of HIV/AIDS and the treatment of infected people. Nurses should be responsible for conducting HIV/AIDS prevention programs in different settings utilizing relevant religious guidelines and teachings, in addition to providing holistic care to AIDS patients with emphasis on the spiritual dimension.
© 2010 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences © 2010 Nordic College of Caring Science.