NAACP hosts social justice-based HIV training for faith leaders

(l-r): Rev. Harold M. Love, Pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; Mrs. Gloria J. Sweet-Love, President of the Tennessee State Conference NAACP; Rev. Keron Sadler, NAACP National Health Manager;  and John R. Faison, Sr., Pastor of Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church. photo: Cass Teague

(l-r): Rev. Harold M. Love, Pastor of St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church; Mrs. Gloria J. Sweet-Love, President of the Tennessee State Conference NAACP; Rev. Keron Sadler, NAACP National Health Manager; and John R. Faison, Sr., Pastor of Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
photo: Cass Teague

The Tennessee State Conference NAACP along with the Nashville Branch NAACP recently hosted HIV training for senior faith leaders at Watson Grove Baptist Church, 1415 Horton Ave, Nashville, Tenn. The training is part of NAACP’s ‘The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative Initiative,’ a program to train Black Church leaders in the U.S. to educate parishioners about HIV prevention and screening. Conducted by the NAACP National Health Department, the training program aims to enlist faith leaders as change agents to address the disparate impact of HIV/AIDS on African Americans.

If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world for new HIV infections. Eliminating HIV will take great effort with the help of partners from the faith community taking action and putting an end to the social injustices in the Black community by confronting the stigma and facilitating honest dialogue with the estimated 20 million African Americans who attend church weekly.

The NAACP, in partnership with Gilead Sciences, has announced a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action to expand The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative program to the 30 cities that account for nearly two-thirds of the nation’s HIV epidemic.

Gloria J. Sweet-Love, president of the Tennessee State Conference NAACP and Dr. John Arradondo, president of the Nashville Branch NAACP welcomed over 100 pastors, faith leaders, and community leaders to the event. The training was closed to the press.

The Black Church and the NAACP have been partners in the struggle for equity and justice since the inception of the NAACP in 1909. For more than three decades, the fight against the spread of HIV and AIDS in the Black community has been a struggle. HIV/AIDS continues to impact the African American community at an alarming rate. Many individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS are members of our respective communities.

One in 16 Black men and one in 32 Black women will contract HIV/AIDS. With almost half of all new HIV cases appearing in the Black community, the NAACP can no longer let this epidemic take the lives of our present and future leaders. It has been a personal mission of the NAACP Health Department to help reignite health equity and social justice movement in Black America, with a special focus on HIV. The NAACP is calling on Black Church leaders to participate in the rebirth of a movement to fight for justice and improve our community’s health and well being.

The NAACP Health Department has completed a yearlong 12-city tour with over 250 faith leaders to identify best practices and challenges when addressing HIV. This tour assisted in developing The Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative. Moving forward, the NAACP is visiting cities across the country, engage pastors and provide training that will help move the faith community from awareness to action.

Visit the website at www.TheBlackChurchandHIV.org