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New York: Minister Takes HIV Test in Front of Congregation

November 25, 2002

In Buffalo, N.Y., yesterday, True Bethel Baptist Church Pastor Darius G. Pridgen endured the needle prick of an HIV test in front of his congregation during Sunday worship. He then implored his assembly to get tested for HIV after services, the Buffalo News reported. The effort for mass HIV screening through a church is believed to be the first in the nation, organizers said. "We see this as the tearing down of the traditional church barriers that exclude dialogue about sex, HIV and AIDS," said Ken Smith, a program coordinator at GROUP Ministries, the city outreach ministry that organized the event. The day, dubbed Breakthrough Sunday, involved 40 HIV/AIDS educators and service providers from state and county health departments, AIDS Community Services, Project Reach, Planned Parenthood and Erie County Medical Center. Of the 700 worshippers present, 105 stopped by a nearby school to be tested for HIV.

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Excerpted from:
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