NAACP Releases Manual to Preach HIV and AIDS Prevention
July 23, 2012 12:09 AM EDT
A predominately African American church in Charlottesville is preaching prevention to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The First Baptist Church is one of many across the country supporting a new manual from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that guides congregations through the discussion about growing infection rates among blacks. It is a new program called "The Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative."
Historically, black churches have routinely remained silent and reluctant to talk about these deadly diseases.
Joseph Stringfellow with the Charlottesville First Baptist Church said, "HIV is associated with behaviors that aren't typically approved or condoned in the church…to navigate that issue is a bit of a minefield."
Charlottesville Human Rights Commission advocate Walt Heinecke says the 61 page manual will help church leaders approach the sensitive topic.
"The fact that it's a disease that disproportionately affects the African American community is significant and what we should be focusing on," he stated.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans are the ethnic group most affected by HIV. In 2009, African Americans made up 14 percent of the US population, but accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections.
Pastor Hamilton of First Baptist Church is open to the NAACP's effort to educate the black community about HIV prevention.
"I look forward to reviewing it and hopefully using it," he said.
The NAACP's national health director oversaw the creation of the manual and says the group's mission since its beginning has been fighting for social justice and the HIV and AIDS epidemic has become a social justice issue.
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