The Douglas Memorial Community Church, along with nearly 120 others across the country is urging people to get tested for HIV. The churches are incorporating Hepatitis C and HIV testing demonstrations into services to show attendees the ease, important and quickness of the process.
Free testing was provided in the basement of the church following the service.
The “Day of Unity” is part of “The Black Church and HIV” program. The program began six years ago in an effort to bring awareness to HIV, while making testing available to disadvantaged neighborhoods. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans make up about half of the HIV population, even though they only make up 12 percent of the U.S. population.
Reverend S. Todd Yeary, pastor at Douglas Memorial, said churches have condemned HIV for way too long, because it was more prevalent in gay communities. He said it was “one area where church tends to be the most judgmental.”
Some people believe ministers have a responsibility to their communities to stress the importance of being tested.
An assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University and Douglas member, Terri Powell, coordinated the testing demonstration.