Bishop T.D. Jakes Calls for More Support From Black Churches, Others in Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Black Community
"It will take the collective might of both the church universally committed and the implementation of a comprehensive agenda that includes medical professionals, political might, social services and personal responsibility to overcome" the "massive epidemic" of HIV/AIDS in the black community, Bishop T.D. Jakes of the Dallas-based Potter's House church, writes in an NNPA/Seattle Medium opinion piece (Jakes, NNPA/Seattle Medium, 10/17).
Jakes co-chaired the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS conference earlier this month in New York City, in which ministers from across the nation called on the government to declare HIV/AIDS among blacks a public health emergency and proposed legislation to address the disease within the community. Ministers also committed to collaborate with the Congressional Black Caucus on a proposed bill, titled the National HIV/AIDS Elimination Act, which they are working to introduce in Congress by January. The legislation calls on the president to declare HIV/AIDS among blacks a public health emergency, which would trigger money and resources to fight the disease, NBLCA President Debra Fraser-Howze said. According to CDC estimates from 2005, blacks made up about 13% of the U.S. population but accounted for 49% of new AIDS diagnoses (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 10/10).
"We all must support the CBC in this endeavor to pass the proposed legislation to fund this critical need for efforts aimed at our community," Jakes writes in the opinion piece. "These funds would include all of our tax dollars that have been directed elsewhere while we die," he said. Although the "church was not designed to find cures, introduce legislation, change government policy or produce the kind of financial strength we need for research, care and prevention," it can "contribute to the solution and partner with existing institutions to do a much better job than it has done alone," Jakes writes, adding, "I think we can and must all do more and better if we are going to lessen the ever-increasing rate of new infections" (NNPA/Seattle Medium, 10/17).