Several predominantly African-American churches in the area are holding special services and events this week in recognition of National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. The aim of the outreach aim is to mobilize faith leaders to help disseminate accurate information about HIV/AIDS and its prevention, encourage testing, and show compassion to those with the disease. Nationally, the week is being promoted by Balm in Gilead, which works to improve the health of African Americans and eliminate health-related disparities.
"Every person in this house has been impacted by AIDS," Frederick Johnson, senior pastor of First Genesis Baptist Church on Hudson Avenue, said during Sunday's special service. "We are still somewhat silent about it. We need to be bold enough to talk about it."
Testing was available during and after Sunday's service, and about half-a-dozen people decided to screen that day.
"It was very motivating," the Rev. Richard Douglass, pastor at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, said of his testing during a church event several years ago. "The numbers of people getting tested was significant."
Last year, HIV diagnoses increased among young people in Monroe County. Of 78 diagnoses in 2010, 35 individuals were younger than age 25. Of the 68 male patients, 51 were black.
For more information, visit www.nationalweekofprayerforthehealingofaids.org/.