June 21, 2011
The local NAACP branch hosted a June 10 roundtable discussion in Fort Lauderdale on the impact of HIV/AIDS in the black community.
The event, held at the Mizell Center, is part of an NAACP 10-city informational tour funded by a Gilead Sciences Foundation grant. The tour's goal is to get input from the faith community on the development of an HIV/AIDS resource guide tailored to African Americans. Other cities participating in the study include: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, New Orleans, and Houston -- communities with disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS among blacks.
Marsha Ellison, president of the Fort Lauderdale/Broward Branch of the NAACP, said it is critical for the black community to respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis. Though she sees clergy members as an essential part of the battle against the epidemic, fewer than 10 attended the roundtable.
"I think that there are a lot of ministers who want to do more but face conflicts within morality issues. I think that some may feel if you speak out against it or talk about prevention, they may be seen as endorsing immoral behavior," said Ellison. "None of us are doing enough because our children, our community is dying at an alarming rate."
Adora Obi Nweze, president of the NAACP Florida State Conference, challenged faith leaders to become more involved. Churches "really will need to help us take the leadership in our community; number one, for them to move forward -- to be educated on the real issues -- and then, for them to come together to help develop strategies on how we get the word out on what is true and what is false in the community," said Nweze.