Darwin Campbell, African-American News&Issues
DALLAS– If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world for new HIV infections.
Eliminating HIV will take great effort with the help of partners from the faith community taking action and putting an end to the social injustices in the Black community by confronting the stigma and facilitating honest dialogue with the estimated 20 million African Americans who attend church weekly.
The nationwide Initiative inspires Black faith leaders to educate congregations on disproportion impact of HIV on Black America.
“HIV in the Black community has become more than a medical issue,” said NAACP Dallas Branch President Juanita Wallace. “It is an issue of social justice.”
That is why the NAACP hosted an HIV training for senior faith leaders in the Dallas area at City of Hope Church. It was part of NAACP’s The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative Initiative, a program to train Black Church leaders in U.S. cities to educate parishioners on HIV screening, treatment and prevention, the training will be conducted by the NAACP National Health Department in partnership with City of Hope Church.
Wallace, along with First Vice President, Rev. Charles Toliver, Religious Chair, Rev. Holsey Hickman, Education Chair, Rodger Weems and NAACP National Health Program Manager, Rev. Keron Sadler were just a few of the key people working to raise awareness and increased involvement in African-American churches inDallas and surrounding communities.
In the United States, Blacks/African Americans bear the greatest burden of HIV, with a rate of new infections that is nearly eight times that of whites.
Black Americans represent just 12% of the U.S. population, but accounted for 44% of all people living with HIVin 2009.
One of the program’s goals is to conduct trainings with faith leaders in 30 cities across the United States that are most impacted by HIV.
One of the reasons Dallas was chosen because it is a city where Black Americans account for 49% of all new HIV diagnoses and make up 43% of all people living with HIV.
Recently the NAACP announced a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action to enlist faith leaders as change agents to address the disparate impact of HIV/AIDS on the African American community.
With this commitment, the NAACP plans to expand The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative program to the 30 cities that account for nearly two-thirds of the nation’s HIV epidemic.