Pennsylvania: Local Black Clergy Unite to Fight HIV/AIDS
November 12, 2010
Philadelphia clergy from more than 100 houses of worship are staging an all-out HIV prevention and education campaign targeting the city's African-American population.
The effort was sparked in part by Amy Nunn, a social science researcher at Brown University School of Medicine. The campaign is using one of Nunn's research findings, that people at highest risk of HIV often perceive themselves at the lowest risk, to reach out to heterosexual black women.
"I didn't think I was at risk," said a 60-year-old black woman who recently told family members she has been HIV-positive for 10 years. "All I did was meet somebody, fall in love -- one partner -- and you know, I was at risk."
Muslim as well as Christian faith leaders are taking part in the campaign. Clergy also are educating their congregations that 30 percent of the city's HIV-positive patients are female, and 70 percent are over age 40.
For some pastors, it has been a challenge to discuss a disease that people associate with homosexuality or multiple sex partners.
"I'm steadfast on [preaching] abstinence," Johnson said. At the same time, he insists couples be tested for HIV before they are married, and he got tested himself during a church service in May.
11.11.2010; Don Sapatkin
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