Illinois: Pastors Spread the Word on AIDS
April 30, 2007
"HIV and AIDS is the leprosy of the new millennium," the Rev. Charles Jenkins told his congregation at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on Chicago's South Side on Sunday. "It is an epidemic in our community."
Jenkins' message was preached by other pastors at nearly 100 black churches throughout Chicago on "I Need You to Survive Sunday." The Chicago-based Let's Talk, Let's Test Foundation organized the coordinated call for church members to reach out to people with HIV/AIDS. Let's Talk co-founder Lloyd Kelly said the churches passed the collection plate to raise funds for HIV/AIDS awareness programs for Chicago's black community.
In 2000, Kelly helped state Rep. Constance Howard (D-Chicago) set up a town hall meeting about HIV/AIDS in the black community. Having contacted 85,000 residents of Howard's district, they hoped for a large turnout. Twenty-seven people showed up. "That was an eye-opener," Kelly said, noting that the belief that AIDS is someone else's problem has helped the disease to spread.
Jenkins said his church has had an HIV/AIDS ministry for about four years and sometimes offers HIV tests after worship services. He said church members have been supportive.
"The church is that place to be empowered and encouraged," Jenkins said. "You can be slow to speak when you're not informed. If it's not put on your plate, you're not going to be concerned with it."
Sunday's collections will help support the fifth annual African-American HIV/AIDS Walk, Run and Bike Ride, to be held May 19. There will be a health fair and HIV testing. For more information, telephone 773-821-2795 or visit www.ltltfoundation.org.
04.30.07; Jeff Long
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.