Pennsylvania: Religious Differences in HIV/AIDS Discussion
December 30, 2010
An effort to promote HIV prevention in Philadelphia's churches and mosques is underscoring how different cultures in the city respond to the epidemic.
The Interfaith Health Action Alliance of Philadelphia (IHAAP) was launched in November to help reduce health disparities in the city, particularly those involving HIV/AIDS. Approximately 100 churches and mosques committed to involve their congregations in HIV prevention with education, HIV-themed sermons, and testing.
The 20 congregations that organized testing events did not include any of the five mosques in the campaign. "This distribution of the literature is where we've had the most success at, but to get them to really bring [testing] to the congregation like the churches have done, we've not had that much success in that area," said Rafiyq Friend, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community who brought the five mosques into the campaign.
"Theologically we believe in certain moral positions [around] adultery, fornication, mostly illicit sexual activity," Friend said.
Part of Friend's motivation in bringing mosques into IHAAP is to establish their commonality with other faith communities in the city. "We are part of the social makeup of America," he said. "We have a responsibility and the responsibility is to help eradicate some of these social ills that are affecting the community."
The tally is not final, but the congregations in the campaign did not seem to administer a large number of HIV tests, said alliance organizer Amy Nunn, research professor of medicine at Brown University.
"If you don't pair the testing with preaching to stimulate the demand and interest for it, to really highlight the importance of testing, you don't really get a lot of people turning out for testing," Nunn said. "That's a lesson that we've learned from this."
12.11.2010; Ayana Jones
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