Some Churches in New York State Offer Free HIV Testing During Church Hours
More than 10 churches in Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo, N.Y., recently participated in a statewide program designed to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in the African-American community by offering free HIV testing during church hours, the Albany Times Union reports. As part of the effort, the Buffalo-based Group Ministries organized "Breakthrough Sunday," in which several pastors agreed to undergo HIV testing in front of their congregations. The initiative was prompted by the rising number of HIV/AIDS cases in the African-American community, according to Michelle Boyd, community organizer for Group Ministries (Willingham, Albany Times Union, 8/11). According to the CDC, African Americans account for 54% of all new HIV infections and 75% of new HIV infections among heterosexuals in the United States, even though they represent only 12% of the U.S. population (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/8/02). In New York, African Americans and Hispanics have made up a disproportionately high number of HIV and AIDS cases since the beginning of the epidemic, according to the Times Union. "The church is the nucleus of the community, of the city. HIV can affect people outside the church and inside the church," Avery Comithier, the pastor of the Elijah Full Gospel Baptist Church who got tested before his congregation, said, adding that churches should have spoken out about the AIDS epidemic when it was first identified two decades ago (Albany Times Union, 8/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.