How to Talk About AIDS in Church

The NAACP is on a mission to get faith leaders to overcome the stigma and address HIV in the black community.

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The NAACP is encouraging black churches to discuss HIV/AIDS. (Thinkstock images)

The NAACP has undertaken a two-year initiative to combat the spread of AIDS in the black community, and the organization is committed to getting faith leaders to address the issue despite religious and cultural taboos that can make doing so difficult.

"We need to acknowledge that, in America, health is a true civil right. It is essential that we enlist leaders from every corner of society to fight back against a disease that is devastating our community," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP. "Normalizing the conversation about HIV/AIDS in our churches is critical to reducing the stigma, making testing a routine part of health care visits and ensuring those who test positive receive medical care earlier -- all of which can curb the spread of this disease."

"Dialogue With the Black Church" -- one part of the organization's initiative to address the disparate impact of HIV/AIDS in the African-American community -- will create a strategic road map for faith leaders to follow.

A key component will be an in-depth assessment of the barriers and challenges that faith leaders face in trying to effectively educate their congregations on HIV testing and prevention.

The part about encouraging medical care should be easy. It will be more of a challenge for faith leaders to "normalize" a conversation that necessarily involves safer sex while also preaching that it will send you straight to hell if you're not married. That's about more than just stigma -- it's a legitimate conflict.

But if the NAACP's strategic road map can truly provide a way to reconcile religious doctrine and HIV/AIDS prevention on a large scale, it will be an enormous victory for the health of the black community.

Read more at UrbanMecca.

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