Kansas: Black Church Confronts HIV, AIDS
February 6, 2006
In advance of Tuesday's National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, retired physician William Burney took his HIV prevention and intervention message to nearly 500 congregants of Tabernacle Baptist Church on Sunday. Tabernacle was the first of seven predominantly black churches at which Burney will speak. "Pray for Burney," said the Rev. Lincoln Montgomery, Tabernacle's pastor. "He is the messenger that has to preach a message nobody wants to hear." Some members took their children and left rather than hear Burney's talk.
Burney, director of health for A New Beginning, an alcohol and drug treatment center, conducts HIV/AIDS outreach throughout western Kansas and the Wichita area. In addition to talking about symptoms of the disease and how it is transmitted, he lets the numbers speak for themselves: According to the state Department of Health and Environment, blacks make up 6 percent of Kansas' population but accounted for 26 percent of the state's diagnosed AIDS cases between 2000 and 2002.
Prior to showing slides of STDs, Burney warned the congregation of their graphic nature. But he added, "If you don't ever see it, how would you recognize it if you do?" He then discussed how to properly put a condom on, and provided tips on how to address condom use with partners. "Your sexuality doesn't put you at risk," said Burney. "What puts you at risk is the behaviors you engage in."
At the end of the presentation, Burney received a scattered standing ovation. Church member Rodney Jones said he hopes Tabernacle sets a good example for other churches in addressing the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. "We can't sugarcoat this anymore," Jones noted. A choir member responded to Burney's talk by standing before the congregation to reveal she has AIDS. Her disclosure took many by surprise.
02.06.06; Christina M. Woods
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.