Indiana: HIV/AIDS and the Black Church
September 30, 2008
Several groups in Indianapolis are working to involve the black church more deeply in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Kimberly Wells said the Bridging the Gap Project she directs "is a health initiative that works in minority communities using a three-pronged strategy of awareness, application, and advocacy to provide HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention." The project was founded by the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church Foundation; its programs include prevention counseling, mental health services, medical referrals, support groups, and HIV/AIDS training workshops. Ebenezer's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Brown, "does a good job of setting the tone for honest conversations about this disease and what needs to be done to help put an end to its spread," Wells said.
Evangelist Gregory C. Irvin founded Reach Out Ministries as a way to minister to local church members living with HIV, and his organization provides training to help pastors understand the disease. "It's amazing how many people are either affected or infected by this disease and are struggling to cope," Irvin said.
The Rev. Elaine Walters, director of the Indiana Minority AIDS Coalition, acknowledged that topics related to sexuality can be controversial within a religious context. Therefore, she said, church leaders should take advantage of organizations like IMAC or Bridging the Gap to lead those discussions and provide information.
"Many people would rather seek out advice from their pastor than from a medical physician," said the Rev. Makeba D'Abreu, who directs domestic HIV programs for The Balm in Gilead. "The church is the perfect place to provide a suffering community with [information]." For 19 years, the national organization has produced educational tools and sponsored programs like the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS.
08.08.2008; Meghann Estrada
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.