Engaging Every Sector in World AIDS Day
Wednesday, December 1st was World AIDS Day and we are recognizing it this week as an opportunity to take action! An estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV, and yet one out of five people don’t know it!
The White House released the National HIV and AIDS Strategy (NHAS) which calls on every sector, including faith and community-based organizations, to take action to create a nation "where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socioeconomic circumstance will have unfettered access to high-quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination." As trusted leaders and messengers, faith and community-based leaders can and do play an essential role in HIV and AIDS prevention, screening and treatment, as well as in reducing stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.
To recognize World AIDS Day in your own community this week or anytime throughout the year, you can:
• Join the Facing AIDS Initiative
• Locate HIV Screening and other HIV Services in your community, and/or
• Download posters and fact sheets about HIV and AIDS.
• More ideas are available at the World AIDS Day website.
Many community organizations, both faith-based and secular, hosted special services this week to highlight the importance of HIV screening and prevention. One such community organization is the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (BLCA) of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity. They sponsored a World AIDS Day service at the First Baptist Church of Highland Park in Landover, MD. During this service, Reverend Dr. Frank D. Tucker, BLCA Chairman, gave a statement about World AIDS Day and announced BLCA’s innovative faith-based initiative in Prince George’s County.
Prince George’s County, a suburban area that borders the District of Columbia, is ranked second in Maryland for highest number of HIV and AIDS cases. BLCA is working with over 20 faith-based institutions to:
- Conduct HIV prevention activities,
- Identify leaders within the congregation to be trained as public health educators, and
- Provide safe spaces for HIV and other health screenings and health education workshops.
BLCA is hoping to reach 5,000 Prince George’s county residents through these leaders over a one-year period.
What BLCA has initiated is a much-needed program in an area affected by the HIV epidemic. For more information on this exciting initiative in Prince George’s County or to share your efforts related to World AIDS Day, please contact the HHS Partnership Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alexia Kelley serves as Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.