Black churches crucial in stopping spread of HIV/AIDS

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From Opposing Views:

Submitted by GLAAD

[Today] is World AIDS Day, the international event to strengthen global efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS. While the statistics in the Black community are daunting (in 2009 African Americans made up only 14 percent of the U.S. population and accounted for more than 44 percent of new infections), there is hope.

According to new research out of Columbia University, Black churches already have existing health outreach strategies that could be of enormous use in HIV prevention for Black gay and bisexual men. The study sought to explore the relationship between church ideologies – of sexuality, bodies and HIV/AIDS – and church mobilization, or lack thereof, in response to the HIV crisis affecting Black gay and bisexual men. Researchers conducted interviews and focus groups at churches in predominately Black neighborhoods in NYC. This analysis of conversations with eighty-one women and men representing six Baptist churches, three African American Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches, two Catholic churches, three inter/nondenominational churches and one Presbyterian church gives us a look into how Black churches can continue (not begin) conversations around HIV/AIDS prevention.

The study notes that Black churches in NYC began to mobilize against HIV/AIDS in the late 1980s by organizing community forums and educational conferences at various churches. Today, Black faith leaders like Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, III, of Abyssinian Baptist Church continue the work. Rev. Butts sits on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and leads the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.

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