Washington, D.C., Churches Launch Initiative To Address HIV/AIDS, Drug Use
A group of six churches in Washington, D.C, has launched a counseling program for HIV-positive people and drug users, the Washington Times reports. The program, which will receive funding from the district Department of Health, was announced a day after the city launched an HIV prevention campaign aimed at youth on National HIV Testing Day. The centers run by the churches under the program will provide counseling, testing education materials and referrals to HIV-positive people and drug users, as well as their families.
Gregg Pane, director of the health department, said that HIV/AIDS and drug abuse are two of the "biggest health problems in the district today." He also applauded the program, saying that people will "listen to their preachers." Sterling Tucker of the Trinity Development Corporation said that although many churches do not address HIV/AIDS or substance abuse, it is important for the religious community to become involved with prevention and treatment. It is important to "invite the religious community to be more actively involved in the issue of HIV/AIDS because unless that community embraces all of us ... we'll have a difficult time" addressing the disease, he said (Altamirano, Washington Times, 6/29).