After Consulting with 250 Faith Leaders, NAACP Launches Innovative New Toolkit to Empower Senior Faith Leaders to Preach about HIV
[Yesterday], the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) unveiled The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative, a first-of-its kind manual that reframes HIV/AIDS as a social justice issue for faith leaders. The manual was released at the Association’s 103rd Annual Convention, marking the inaugural moment when the civil rights organization is sharing its perspective on the disproportionate impact that HIV/AIDS is having on the Black community and the integral role the Black Church can play.
The manual offers faith leaders an overview of why HIV is a social justice issue and what the community can do to address it. It also identifies best practices and challenges when addressing HIV within the Black Church and serves as a roadmap for faith leaders to move their congregation from increased awareness to advocacy.
“When the NAACP observes disparities disproportionally affecting one group of people more than others, whether it is poverty, education or health, we must question if the root causes are associated with social injustices,” said Roslyn Brock, Chairman of the NAACP. “We are calling faith leaders to action. We need them to dispel the myths about HIV and preach about HIV as a social justice issue and then commit to join with the NAACP for ongoing activism.”
The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative was developed after a year-long effort by the NAACP Health Department. The NAACP interviewed more than 250 faith leaders across multiple denominations from around the country. A historic collaboration between the NAACP’s Health Department and its National Religious Affairs Committee underscored the Association’s commitment to action. After the launch, the initiative will continue with educational workshops for clergy members in cities and seminaries around the country so that pastors are aware, engaged, and mobilized to create sustainable change.
“Yesterday, we had our inaugural Day of Unity, where pastors preached about HIV as a social justice issue and encouraged their parishioners to know their status and get tested,” said Shavon Arline-Bradley, Director of the Health Department at the NAACP. “We know that it will take an ongoing commitment to fight this social injustice. We are asking the Black Church to put on their armor and join us in the fight.”
Statistics in the manual and throughout the initiative aim to dispel myths and educate the community about the true impact of HIV in the Black community. In the United States, Blacks are more likely to become infected, less likely to know they have the disease and more likely to die from HIV/AIDS than any other race. If Black America was its own country, it would rank 16th in the world in the number of people with HIV. One out of every 16 Black males will be diagnosed with HIV over the course of his lifetime; similarly, one out of every 32 Black females will be diagnosed with HIV.
“The NAACP and Black Churches have a duty to ensure our communities are provided with equal access to care, including opportunities for testing, treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “If health care providers do not offer HIV tests during routine health exams, we must ask ‘why not?’”
About the NAACP
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.
For more information on the initiative, please visit www.theblackchurchandhiv.org.