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Black leaders
call on churches to address AIDS

Black leaders
call on churches to address AIDS

Summit urges black church leaders to help fight the spread of HIV among African-Americans.

African-American church leaders from Washington, D.C., recently held a summit to boost HIV awareness among predominantly black churches and encourage black ministers to talk with their congregants about HIV antibody testing and AIDS-related stigma, The Washington Post reports. Washington, D.C., has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the country, with as many as one in every 20 residents infected with the virus and one in every 50 already diagnosed with AIDS.

The Clergy Leadership Summit on HIV/AIDS drew about 75 participants. Sterling Tucker, who organized the event, told the Post that the summit included ministers from a wide range of churches, including "Pentecostal ministers and other conservative ministers who wouldn't have been here before."

Event leaders hope black church officials will begin addressing HIV issues with their congregants in an effort to stop rising HIV infection rates among African-Americans, who are being hit disproportionately hard by the disease--about half of all new HIV infections occurring in the United States are among African-Americans. Churches are a major source of information and guidance for African-American communities and should play a key role in promoting HIV prevention, testing, and support, say summit organizers. (The Advocate)

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