Evangelical Lutheran Bishops Will Publicly Take HIV Tests To Raise Awareness, Show Commitment To Curbing Virus
Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America participating in the church's conference in March will publicly take HIV tests in an effort to raise awareness about the virus, the Religion News Service/Salt Lake Tribune reports. The Rev. Mark Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, said African religious' leaders public disclosure that they've been tested has helped reduce stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. He added that ELCA bishops will be tested as a "similar act of accompaniment and encouragement for ELCA members and global companions." Hanson said, "This decision by ELCA bishops is one more sign of this church's commitment" to address HIV/AIDS.
The testing campaign will come as the denomination prepares to develop an HIV/AIDS strategy at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August, according to Bishop Paul Stumme Diers, who also serves as chair of the Ministry Among People in Poverty Committee. He said, "Part of the message of doing this is to remind people of both the importance of being tested for HIV and AIDS and also the confidentiality that surrounds that whole process," adding, "That way, it's more inviting for people to participate in that, and it ensures the health and welfare of society when those confidentialities are kept" (Banks, Religion News Service/Salt Lake Tribune, 1/9).