Missouri: Area Black Churches Respond to HIV/AIDS Crisis
February 10, 2010
Through February, about 30 churches in the Kansas City area will participate in events tied to increasing HIV/AIDS awareness in the African-American community. African Americans make up only about 13 percent of the area's population, but almost half of new HIV diagnoses, according to the local health department.
"In Kansas City, there are 4,617 individuals living with HIV or AIDS. Nearly 39 percent of these are racial minorities and 18 percent are women," said the Rev. Arthur Carter of Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church. "Seventy-six percent of all women infected with HIV/AIDS in Kansas City are black women," said Carter, who led the first of four Wednesday evening services devoted to the disease.
"We are witnessing the destruction of human life in our own communities," congregants said during a responsive reading. "Let us join hearts with the faith community in prayer, in spirit, and in action, to let our brothers and sisters living with HIV/AIDS in Kansas City know that God loves them and so do we."
An attendee disclosed her positive serostatus for the first time, and she encouraged other people at the event to get tested.
"Back in the old days, if we put an AIDS ribbon on it and said anything about AIDS, you could guarantee that the church wouldn't show up," said the Rev. Eric Williams, who has been involved with HIV/AIDS initiatives for more than a decade.
Not nearly enough has been done to address the epidemic in the black community, Williams said. And with the disease's increasing association with poverty, it is not getting the attention it once did, he added.
KCUR News (Kansas City)
02.08.2010; Elana Gordon
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.