Louisiana: Faith Leaders Trained to Lead Fight on HIV

This article was reported by WDSU News.

WDSU News reported that on March 13, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) New Orleans Branch was the site of a training that aimed to prepare African-American faith leaders to engage their congregations in discussing the effects of HIV in their communities. NAACP planned to implement the program, "The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative," to train faith leaders in the 30 US cities most heavily affected by HIV. The program also supplied resources to assist pastors with conversations about HIV/AIDS. NAACP believed that HIV/AIDS was more than just a medical issue, and that African-American faith leaders could be the most effective advocates within their communities.

CDC estimated that HIV incidence among US blacks was eight times higher than new infections among whites. In 2009, blacks accounted for 44 percent of all HIV-positive Americans, but made up only 12 percent of the country's total population. Baton Rouge, La., ranked second among all US cities in HIV incidence, and New Orleans ranked third.

The training organizers estimated that 20 million African Americans attended church weekly. NAACP aimed to enlist African-American faith leaders as "agents of change," who could facilitate "honest dialogue" about HIV/AIDS with their congregations.