Black Clergy in San Diego Take HIV Tests to Kick Off Awareness Initiative
A group of black clergy on Wednesday took HIV tests on the steps of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in San Diego as part of the kick-off campaign for a new HIV/AIDS awareness initiative aimed at the black community, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Members of Concerned African-American Clergy and Laity took the county-administered swab test "as a first step toward encouraging the community to take the test, know your status and know your partner," Art Cribbs of the Christian Fellowship United Church of Christ said, adding that the ministers were "declaring war on AIDS." The minister said they were encouraged to act because of the high number of cases being reported in the black community. In 1999, of the 46,400 AIDS cases reported to the CDC from across the nation, half were among blacks, and the AIDS rate among blacks -- at 66 cases per 100,000 people -- was more than twice the rate for Latinos and eight times the rate for whites. The ministers said they will collect and analyze AIDS statistics from the San Diego African-American community to see how they compare to national trends. They also said they will include "calls for confidential AIDS testing" in their sermons and will make their congregations aware of HIV/AIDS services in the area. "If (patients) are positive, we have an extra array of services and information available. If they are negative, we can show them how to stay negative," Terry Cunningham, director of the San Diego County AIDS Office and coordinator of Wednesday's testing, said. The ministers also will coordinate and facilitate other HIV/AIDS events. "People are dying. We feel an obligation to reach the people of the community," Janice Groves-Todd, who runs an outreach ministry for women at Faith Chapel Church of God in Christ, said (McDonald, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.