Maryland: Teaching About HIV/AIDS in the Church
December 15, 2011
As part of Baltimore's recently announced plan to cut new HIV/AIDS cases by 25 percent over the next four years, the city is recruiting churches as partners in areas where the disease is concentrated.
"The church is a foundation of bringing people together," said Oxiris Barbot, the city health commissioner. "We need them to help get out the message about AIDS."
Barbot said the city can work with churches to approach the subject in broad, general terms. Some churches may not feel comfortable giving out free condoms. Others may give out literature, but not want to talk about HIV/AIDS from the pulpit. "We want people to know we will meet them where they are," she added.
The Rev. Keron Sadler saw that diversity when working on an NAACP initiative to get churches more active in HIV/AIDS education nationwide. Discussing HIV/AIDS means delving into topics -- homosexuality, non-monogamous sexual activity, and drug use -- that churches may not wish to appear as embracing or condoning. While some ignore the subject, others only approach it in a judgmental way, leaving some at-risk individuals reluctant to seek help.
"We are trying to work with opinion leaders, which are often religious and community leaders, to recognize that stigmatizing attitudes have a profoundly negative effect on prevention," said William Blattner, chair of the Baltimore City Commission on HIV/AIDS and associate director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "We are trying to get them to recognize we're here to help people, not judge them, and get pastors to have a more enlightened approach."
12.06.2011; Andrea K. Walker
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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