Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Detroit Pastor Urges Black Churches to Fight Spread of HIV Among African Americans
African-American churches need to "move into a mode of action" to fight HIV infection in black communities, and there are many steps that pastors and congregations can take to accomplish this goal, Rev. J. Michael Curenton, pastor of the Mayflower Congregational Church in Detroit, Mich., writes in a Detroit Free Press op-ed. Curenton, noting that AIDS-related complications are the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 18 to 40, says that black churches often "get too bogged down in political infighting" by "wrongly considering AIDS a gay disease" and hesitating to address the issue "because they think it means endorsing something many congregants label as a lifestyle choice -- and a wrong one at that." Citing a passage from the Bible that states "it is better to marry than to burn," Curenton says that "it might be better for some people to practice 'safe sex' if they cannot be celibate," adding that needle-exchange programs are a better option for injection drug users than HIV infection. Curenton notes that his church has sponsored several AIDS awareness events, including a candlelight vigil, community programs and a camp for children who are HIV-positive. He suggests that black churches educate their congregations about HIV/AIDS by inviting AIDS agencies to give workshops at their facilities and collecting special offerings to benefit local or national AIDS service organizations. "We must be supportive. We must pray for a cure, pray for healing and pray for our compassionate response," Curenton concludes (Curenton, Detroit Free Press, 4/24).
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