Churches Facing Up to HIV/AIDS as the Leading Killer of Black Women

By Jesse

AIDS is now the leading cause of death for Black women ages 25 to 34.
Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic during the early 80s, the disease’s face has dramatically changed from white gay males to a full-blown pandemic in the Black community, affecting Black women and children, as well as Black men.

Ayodele Nzinga

March 7-14 was the official week of The Black Church Week of Prayer for the healing of AIDS. The concept is modeled after the successful, innovative 1989 Harlem Week of Prayer for AIDS started by The Balm of Gilead.
The Week of Prayer services are to seek the power of prayer and divine love for all those suffering from AIDS.
The services are dedicated to empowering those living with HIV/AIDS by taking the time to pray. Its goals are to remove myths and unfounded fears by educating people about what AIDS is and is not by educating them about the full impact and prevention of this disease in our communities.
I’m happily exhausted after attending several events in observance of this day. I am excited that churches are finally ready to step up to the plate around the HIV/AIDS issues.
The “Mama Twilight, Death by Love” performance at Beebe Memorial Church on March 6th, kicked off many faith-based services around the bay area. The play was written and directed by Ayodele Nzinga starring The Lower Bottom Playaz. It was sponsored by Get Screened Oakland, Mayor Dellums’ HIV/AIDS initiative.
The play tells the story a family’s struggle to stay a family when HIV/AIDS comes knocking at their door. It’s riveting and real, digging deep into the secrets and denials that are prohibiting the black community from understanding the annihilation of HIV.
Nzinga’s insight of how our ability to honestly communicate, blocked and shielded by deep-rooted secrets and pain, ultimately damages the whole family structure.
“HIV/AIDS are just symptoms of the real diagnosis, the subject can be replaced with a number of other health disparities in our community”, Nzinga says. Twilight is a must see for all.
March 10th, at Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church, Women Organized against Life-threatening Disease (WORLD), organized “HIV is Right Here at Home”, a testing empowerment event with a series of  open, interactive educational presentations.

Dr. Nanette Finley-Hancock, keynote speaker; Gloria Crowell, Chairperson. Allen Temple AIDS ministry.

Allen Temple Baptist Church’s AIDS Ministry hosted a series called “Real Talk”, two days of events including a mixer of social interaction with refreshments, music, and health information. After the social the program featured Bishop Keith Clark, of Word Assembly whose sermon asked for healing in our community from HIV/AIDS. Helen Stephen’s young adult choir and Ambassadors for Change performed. The next day the conversation continued, with a roundtable discussion, where Dr. Nannette Finley-Hancock of Paradise Cove Psychology Services Inc, in Richmond, California, delivered a powerful keynote speech setting off an intense, emotional discussion. Allen Temple has been having these discussions with clergy and ministers since the early days of the epidemic. Allen Temple plans another Real Talk next month. I finished the week off as guest speaker at Brookins AME Church in East Oakland.
The pastors and churches that participated in this week of prayer for the healing of HIV/AIDS have shown that the Black church can indeed be a Balm in Gilead, which “heals the sin sick soul.”
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