South Carolina Legislature Allocates $1M to State Churches for HIV Prevention Programs
The South Carolina Legislature has allocated $1 million to 24 churches statewide to participate in an HIV prevention pilot initiative, the Columbia State reports. "Project FAITH," led by the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council, aims to engage churches with predominately black congregations or programs that serve primarily black residents -- who account for nearly three-quarters of HIV cases in the state -- in raising HIV/AIDS awareness and reducing stigma surrounding the disease in order to stem the spread of the virus within the black community, the State reports. Under the program, two churches that have experience organizing HIV/AIDS programs each will receive $25,000 to expand their efforts and assist other churches with newer programs, the State reports. The newer programs will be given $2,500 to $15,000 to develop classes, community forums, HIV testing and counseling programs, and other activities, according to the State. According to some surveys conducted by the state HIV/AIDS Council, many church members said they are not comfortable with having HIV prevention and education programs at their churches. "What we need is to be able to educate the public about this disease and about its spread," state Rep. Joe Neal (D), who advocated for the program, said, adding, "The faith community would be the perfect vehicle for that because they would carry the moral imperative to do that, as well as information about how this disease is spread." If the pilot project receives a positive response, organizers hope to involve more churches across the state, the State reports (Reid, Columbia State, 10/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.