Prayer and AIDS: Sending a Message in Florida
March 12, 2010
"It's no doubt that awareness and prevention are the surest weapons in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. But those weapons are even more effective when fortified with compassion and prayer.
"It seems that a number of churches throughout the nation have figured this out. That's why this week is the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. People in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and homes will pause for a moment during worship services and pray for the healing of AIDS.
"According to the Duval County Health Department, local houses of worship will also sponsor awareness activities and events such as free HIV testing and counseling, educational presentations, and prayer vigils.
"The week of prayer is part of a campaign led by The Balm in Gilead Inc., a Richmond, Va.-based organization that focuses on involving the faith community in eliminating health disparities.
"And when it comes to HIV and AIDS, the disparity in Jacksonville is staggering. Blacks make up 70 percent of the HIV cases here and 63 percent of the AIDS cases, according to the health department. Those are the highest rates of any ethnic group.
"Yet, one of the reasons for that disparity is denial, especially among blacks who believe they'll be shunned, and not supported, by the church if they admit to carrying the virus.
"That's why this week is important, because houses of worship can play a powerful role in preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS. They can play that role by reassuring those who either have the virus or are at risk of contracting it that they are there to pray for them; to comfort and counsel them."
For information on observances around Jacksonville, telephone Tabitha Robinson, regional minority AIDS coordinator, at 904-253-2983. For information on the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, visit www.balmingilead.org.
Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)
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.
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