NAACP Asks Black Churches to Engage in AIDS/HIV Activism

(Graphic: NAACP)A graphic provided by the NAACP shows statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that in 2012, black people in the U.S. represented 44 percent of all new cases of HIV despite only being 14 percent of the population.

NAACP leaders are asking leaders of predominantly black churches to explore how a social justice approach could be integrated with AIDS/HIV activism in congregations.

A document released earlier this month on the organization's website entitled "The Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative" includes statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012 showing that black people represent 44 percent of all new HIV infections, despite representing only 14 percent of the U.S. population.

"With almost half of all new HIV cases appearing in the Black community, the NAACP is convinced that this epidemic can no longer continue to take the lives of our present and future leaders," said Roslyn M. Brock Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors in a separate "Pastoral Brief" document introducing the initiative.

"The discourse around the HIV epidemic is an issue that many feel has no place in the church. However, the Black Church remains the cornerstone of our community and must be a critical voice in helping to reduce the number of new cases of HIV," she writes

Another leader in the organization envisions a close partnership with churches.

"Together the Black Church and the NAACP will ensure parishioners have access to screening, learn how to prevent the transmission of the disease, and advocate on behalf of their respective communities to ensure they have better access to care and treatment," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, the President and CEO of the organization, says both the Church and the NAACP will "

The manual provides specific strategies and programs for use in churches, and includes feedback from pastors from various Christian denominations, ministries and perspectives who participated in an 11-city research tour hosted by the NAACP.

"We understand that incorporating HIV activism into a spiritual setting may be perceived as a difficult process, but it is possible to begin with small steps even in the most conservative environments," the 'Imperative' manual states.

The manual also includes myths and misconceptions about HIV, among them, stating that while it can be transmitted sexually, through needle sharing/blood-to-blood contact and mother-to-child-transmission, it is not transmitted through touch.

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