National Black Church Prayer Week Scheduled to Bring AIDS Awareness to the Pulpit
The national Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS will commence on March 3 with the aim of "turn[ing] local fellowship halls into AIDS battlefields" and "chang[ing] attitudes at black churches [to] slow the spread of AIDS in African-American communities," the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram reports. Led by the Balm in Gilead, a New York-based organization dedicated to empowering churches in the fight against AIDS, the event will educate dozens of Tarrant County, Texas, religious leaders about AIDS and the role churches can play in stemming the epidemic. National organizers said more than 10,000 churches nationwide will use the "power of the pulpit" to teach congregations about AIDS. Religious leaders traditionally have refrained from promoting an open discussion on the disease because they have preached against homosexuality, promiscuity and drug use, key factors in HIV transmission, and do not know how to approach the topic, the Star-Telegram reports. "It is time for us to break the silence. We want to make them aware and educated, and then move them into action," Sonia McClarron-Singleton, associate executive director of the AIDS Outreach Center and local Prayer Week chair, said. According to a recent CDC survey, 30% of gay black males between the ages of 23 and 29 in six U.S. cities have HIV, and the CDC also reports that AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 25 to 44. The Prayer Week will encourage local black churches to invite AIDS organizations to answer questions, provide confidential HIV testing, distribute information materials and "reach out to people" living with HIV/AIDS (Jackson, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 2/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.