Local Groups Fight HIV in Black Communities During Week of Prayer
Last week's Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS serves as an example of the African-American community's changing views of HIV/AIDS, as some black churches are becoming more actively involved in fighting the epidemic. To mark the weeklong event, several newspapers have highlighted some of the meetings and activities held in communities across the country. Some excerpts are listed below:
- More than 10,000 churches across the nation addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS during church services (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 3/11).
- The Akron AIDS Collaborative on Saturday held its fifth annual Prayer Breakfast for the Healing of HIV/AIDS at Akron City Hospital. The event was a fundraiser for the Akron AIDS Collaborative, which fights AIDS in the local black community (Wallace, Akron Beacon Journal, 3/11).
- In Los Angeles, 16-year-old Hydeia Broadbent, who has had HIV since birth, gave a speech Saturday to an audience gathered at First New Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. Broadbent discussed the "dangers of drug use and promiscuous sex" and warned teens to resist peer pressure when faced with dangerous activities. The event was also part of the Healing of AIDS week (Decker, Los Angeles Times, 3/11).
Reaching Out to Gay Black Men
In addition to religious groups, organizations that target gay black men are tackling AIDS in their communities. The Boston Globe reports that many gay black men feel that the larger African-American community is "ashamed of them" and often "hostile," while the larger gay community "slights" them. Many are "lonely" and "desperate ... willing to risk their health for affection," the Globe reports. Many gay African Americans feel that the health care system "has largely concentrated on whites" and that prevention campaigns, condom distribution programs and counseling efforts have also focused more on the white gay community. But gay African-Americans have been "lulled into complacency" by the availability of antiretroviral drugs, the Globe reports, making them less likely to view the disease as an immediate threat. While some churches have addressed the issue of HIV in the gay black community, the black church as a whole "hasn't dealt with it yet," Rev. Gregory Groover of the Charles Street AME Church said (Mishra, Boston Globe, 3/11). In addition, community groups have been started to provide support, counseling and education on the issue. Akron Brother Circle, for example, provides a "comfortable forum" for gay black men to meet and talk about AIDS and other issues (Akron Beacon Journal, 3/11).