Did you know that an estimated one million people are living with HIV in the United States? Did you know that HIV/AIDS is often referred to as the “disease of young people” with half of the 5 million new infections each year occurring among people ages 15 to 24? Did you know that woman and people of color account for more than 50% of the existing 40 million HIV/AIDS cases to date?
If we were to take polls in the African American churches around the world about HIV/AIDS, my belief is that we would fail miserably regarding the facts and statistics. The belief is that only people who use drugs, are homosexual, or have premarital sex can contract this disease. However, we know that this is far from the truth. Most churches avoid speaking in depth about premarital sex, sexually transmitted diseases, homosexual relationships and drug use. These issues are mentioned from time to time but not in detail. The church states you shouldn’t take part in these activities because the Bible states that you shouldn’t. However, the reasons why we shouldn’t are almost never stated. This is also the case in Black Christian homes around the world. Parents are afraid to talk to their children about these issues. Young people are just told don’t do it! Then they attend church and the same is said don’t do it! My concern is that we will die because we are not educated about HIV/AIDS. Someone needs to take responsibility.
I believe the church should take part in the responsibility of educating the people regarding HIV/AIDS. If the church can tell you don’t have premarital sex, don’t take part in drugs and homosexuality, why wouldn’t we take part in educating people about this disease? According to the statistics half of all new infections in the United States occur in people 25 years of age or younger. Currently my church has more members that are 25 years of age and under than 25 years of age or older. Anyone of them could potentially be a statistic. However, the chances they would contract this disease could be potentially be smaller if they were educated about the disease. Roughly 70 percent of all new infections in the United States occur in men. We also have men in our congregation; it would be safe to say that at least half of them are not educated about the disease. Approxiamtely 30 percent of all new infections occur in women. The women in our church out number the men by 3 to 1. The entire church is African American and African American people account for 54 percent of new infections.
We must take responsibility in educating the church. As a leader of the church I would be one of the first to take part in educating young people about this growing disease. Yes, we are to teach don’t have pre marital sex, homosexual relationships or use drugs. However, the truth of the matter is that some of us are taking part in these activities, and someone may be infected with the disease in the church. Frankly, even if you’re married, not taking drugs or having extra marital affairs you could still become infected. Most importantly we all need to be educated about this vicious disease. If we love like Christ loves, we would educate the people about this disease. The disease that doesn’t care about where you come from, how much money you have, what color you are, whether you’re male or female, or whether you’re 2 or 42. This disease does not discriminate. If we get educated we can educate and equip our children and they can educate their children.
Here are some alarming facts:
An estimated one million people are currently living with HIV in the United States, with approximately 40,000 new infections occurring each year. 70 percent of these new infections occur in men and 30 percent occur in women. By race, 54 percent of the new infections in the United States occur among African Americans, and 64 percent of the new infections in women occur in African American women. 75 percent of the new infections in women are heterosexually transmitted. Half of all new infections in the United States occur in people 25 years of age or younger. Woman and people of color account for more than 50 % of the existing 40 million HIV/AIDS cases to date. Currently there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, the only certain way to prevent it is abstinence, which means to abstain from sexual intercourse. African American women are infected with HIV/Aids 25 times more than white women and 4 times more than Hispanics women making HIV/Aids the leading cause of death for black women ages 25-34.
The African Diaspora have experienced decades of destruction and oppression , which continue to impact the lives of people of color. The primary mode for women for the transmission of HIV is through heterosexual contact.
The black church is one of the most stable institutions in the African community. It is the place where most black persons celebrate their faith and seek direction.
Religion remains an integral part of African American culture and tends to permeate every aspect of black life. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to deem religion as important and to demonstrate their commitments by attending religious services on a weekly basis. Weekly religious attendance rates for black women are higher than white and Latina women and men, regardless of race.
Studies have indicated religiosity has been consistently found to be a predictor of sexual behavior among adolescents, college students and adult women. Persons who frequently attend religious services or report consistent devotional time have fewer high-risk sexual behavior and delays in first sexual intercourse experience.
It is implicit that HIV prevention be conducted in a religious setting, such as the Black church, it would be effective in reducing HIV among communities of color.
Elaine Broaster-White is the mother of two wonderful, intelligent children and the wife of the most perfect husband, whose absolutely perfect for her. She’s currently in school earning her degree in Social Work. She’s hoping to sue her degree to help others. But most importantly she is a child of the King, the most High God, Jesus Christ.
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