HIV/AIDS and the Black Church: Where do they stand?

caines | 12/6/2012, 7 a.m.

Churches fight against HIV/AIDS

I am living and I am not afraid of you, anymore those were the messages that the two speakers living with HIV/AIDS proclaimed to the world and to the church on Dec. 2. At the 100 Women in Red: Stand Up You Can Live event held at Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, attendees were educated about HIV/AIDS by learning the alarming statistics and hearing the two powerful testimonies that were shared. The event was held as an observation of World AIDS Day. I was not diagnosed to die, Denise Deshazior said. I was diagnosed to go and help somebody. She shared her testimony and encouraged others who may have the virus to continue to live optimistically with the virus, and not feel sorry for themselves. I will not let HIV beat me, she said. I will not let HIV dictate my life. I will not let HIV determine my destiny because my destiny is to look to the hills from whence my help comes from, and I know my help comes from God. Minister Robert Allen spoke of a time when it once took every drop of him to share his testimony because it was hard for him to tell others that he was HIV positive, especially church folks. He said but now he is no longer afraid, and he speaks out to help others. There are people who are going to their grave because they are scared of you, he said. People who rather die instead of let you know.

Church helps stop HIV/AIDS

"The church has always been the backbone of the family, as well as, the community, and if they take a more active stand," said Kalenthia Nunnally, a member of the ministry. "The impact will be greater because HIV is a community problem not just an individual problem." Those in attendance at the event pledged to spread awareness and inform others about HIV/AIDS. Everyone signed pledge cards. There was also a candle lighting memorial for people who died from HIV/AIDS. Dionne Miller, a member of Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, who attended the event with her children, sister, niece and nephew, said that it is a necessity that the youth know about HIV today. The children, who were in attendance with her, ranged from 2-15 in age. They all stated in agreement that they have learned more about HIV from attending the event. Miller said she didnt know that there would be speakers sharing their testimonies at the event. They dont have one sore and that is a miracle in their lives because now they are walking in the power of God, Miller said. The churchs HIV and AIDS ministry sponsored the event. Everybody needs to be aware of this disease and know how to get help, Jacqueline Sharp, the president of the ministry, said. The ministry goes out with the evangelism ministry once a month and pass out literature about HIV and condoms, according to Sharp. She said she is trying to get more church members to join the ministry, but some are afraid to join because they think others will think that they have the virus. Sharp said the members of the ministry took classes and were informed about HIV and now are trying to inform others. In addition, the ministry plans on providing HIV testing about twice a month. People perish because of a lack of knowledge, said Edith Morgan, another member of the ministry. So we are trying to spread the knowledge. Many local churches had events to observe World AIDS Day. Others have events coming up, including Immanuel Temple, which will have its 10th Annual HIV/AIDS worship service on Dec. 9 at 10a.m. and Ebenezer United Methodist Church, which will have their 10th Annual Hope, Faith, Cure: HIV and AIDS Gospel Extravaganza on Dec. 15. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com