June 11, 2012
Churches in the District of Columbia are combating AIDS by educating parishioners and working within the faith community, according to the Rev. Frank Tucker, a member of the National Black Leadership on AIDS and senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Northwest.
"More and more churches are addressing the AIDS epidemic," Tucker said. "Some churches are testing their members while others are handing out materials on the disease. Pastors are now even speaking about it in their pulpits."
The District's epidemic received international attention in March 2009 with the announcement that 3 percent of Washington residents had HIV or AIDS. As a result, the city's health department has expanded its HIV testing to include schools and job sites, aired public service announcements on condoms, and encourages testing.
Tucker said he has seen an increase in the number of churches sponsoring health fairs to test members for HIV as well as other diseases.
Tucker also commented on rising HIV infection rates among seniors. "Seniors are having continuous sexual activity," he said. "We are urging more seniors to use protection when they have sex."
According to Tucker, "Some [churches] have certain theological positions that are not supportive of people who have the disease." However, "We all have agreed that we have to do something to fight this disease even though our techniques may vary."