HIV/AIDS and the Deafening Silence of the Black Church

HIV/AIDS has been one of the Black churches dirty little secrets.  Blacks have more new HIV infections, AIDS diagnoses, individuals living with HIV, and HIV related deaths than any other cultural group in this country.  Has your pastor preached about that? This epidemic has been willfully ignored.  The current outreach is minimal, at best.  Why are they so deafening silent on an issue that has greatly affected their local communities, overall leadership and congregations?  One does not die from HIV, but from complications of HIV.  Have you noticed that cancer related deaths have gone up exponentially?  When the whispers and murmurs of HIV/AIDS are brought to light, members are admonished, chastised, and bullied into silence.  I would like to believe that church leadership would address this issue by assisting their members to get educated, tested, medicine, treatment, and clinical study groups.  They apply for grants for a multitude of other programs, why aren’t they applying for grants to help those in their community to prevent being infected?

 

In the Black community, HIV impacts women, youth, gay, and bi-sexual men the most.  Is this why the Black church is so silent?  Is the misogyny and perceived hatred for the LGBTQ community so embedded that you are willing to sacrifice the members of these communities to prove to your imaginary God that you are his team?  I don’t understand the silence of Black women and the Black LGBTQ community.  Blacks account for over 500,000 cases of HIV out of the 1.1 million cases in America.  Blacks comprise approximately 12% of the US population, yet they account for approximately 46% of new infections. The AIDS diagnosis for Blacks is 9 times than that of whites.  Doesn’t this bother you?  HIV related deaths are over 50% in the black community.  HIV is the 4th leading cause of death for Black men and the 3rd for Black women.   Doesn’t this concern you?

 

Your silence is tacit agreement.  Do you hate yourselves that much?  Have you been beaten down by the vitriolic rhetoric of the church so much that you acquiesce to their ignorance and hatred?  It is time for us to take a stand and demand better by organizing and providing the outreach and education.

 

District of Columbia has the highest AIDS rate in the country.  More than half of Blacks estimated to be living with an AIDS diagnosis and the majority of new AIDS diagnoses among Blacks in the South, per the Kaiser Foundation.

 

The HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study (HCSUS) found that Blacks were more likely to report postponing medical care because they lacked transportation, were too sick to go to the doctor, or had other competing needs.

 

There are free and low cost healthcare and medical services available.  Please take advantage of these services and take the necessary precautions to improve your quality of life.  You can also locate free substance abuse and mental healthcare also.

 

Per the Kaiser Foundation, in 2009 only 33% of African Americans claim that they have heard of AIDS as compared to 62% in 2004.

 

 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funding for HIV/AIDS.  USAID has grants available for regional and local non-governmental organizations, universities, and faith-based organizations up to $500,000.  The CDC HIV Prevention has funding opportunities available.  The money is out there, why aren’t they partaking of these wonderful opportunities?  The CDC also has a special program that is dedicated to HIV prevention that serves Young Men of Color Who Have Sex with Men (YMSM of color).  There are but a few grant and funding opportunities available, but I have yet to hear of many churches applying for these monies and helping their community.  Why is that?

 

 

The money is available, so why is the silence so deafening?  Why isn’t the Black community outraged?  There are a multitude of people dying from this horrible disease and no one is saying anything.  Maybe if they addressed the issue on one of those reality shows or intelligence diminishing weekly programs someone one would take notice.  The apathy is frustrating, yet telling.

 

Is that the problem?  Homosexuality is not an affliction or plague nor can one be delivered from it.  Please stop telling people that they can pray the gay away and be delivered.  Those are lies and you know it.  If it was true, we wouldn’t have so many examples of ‘delivered’ homosexuals being caught indulging in homosexual activities.  Let these people live their lives and be themselves.

 

Vive et alteros vivere permitte.  Live and let live.

 

Are they still trying to bury their heads in the sand and not address sexuality in the Black community?  Sexuality is not going to go away just because you don’t talk about it.  That’s not how that works.   Maybe if it is addressed, we will be able to get a handle of this epidemic and also the teen pregnancy epidemic.  However, I digress.  Einstein

 

The Kaiser Foundation is one of many organizations that offer information on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the black community.  According to their fact sheet, published March 2011, “Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by HIV/IDS since the epidemic beginning, and that disparity has deepened over time.”  This fact alone should have had black clergy protesting over the disparities.  Yet they sit on the sidelines and allow a preventable disease to ravage their communities.  Instead, they attempt to deflect the issue and perpetuate the myth of calling HIV/AIDS a gay disease.

 

Greater than AIDS  and The Black AIDS Institute are organizations that have reached out to the communities.  June is National HIV testing month.  Go to this site, put in your zip code, and go get tested.  It is quite simple.  They have a mouth swab test; your results are produced within 20 minutes. and the results are confidential.  Although, it would be highly ethical and responsible for you to inform your partner(s) if your results are positive.

 

This is one of many issues that need to be addressed immediately.  HIV prevention is possible with education.  The Black church needs to be held accountable since it claims to have the best interest of the community as its primary responsibility.  If the lack of acknowledgement, assistance, and compassion shown is considered responsible, I fear the future endeavors of the church.

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