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In HIV Fight, Monks Bridge Secular, Religious

For groups struggling to educate the populace on the dangers of HIV and AIDS, monks have become an increasingly important tool, as people become used to taking with religious leaders about intimate subjects.

Now, monks say, the curtain of silence that once hurt their efforts is opening, making their efforts more effective.

With support from the US's President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and Unicef, Buddhism for Development is helping bridge the gap between religious and secular communities in Cambodia.

Venerable Ong Sary, who works with AIDS orphans, has studied at a "Peace Development School" operated by Pepfar.

He told VOA Khmer recently many monks were returning to their home villages after attending the school to establish HIV-AIDS groups for home-based care and education.

Monks use their pagodas as HIV-AIDS centers, as more and more people become accustomed to speaking with them about the disease and its causes, Ong Sary said.