NEW YORK--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Yesterday, onstage at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, the NAACP and its partner, Gilead Sciences, announced a joint CGI Commitment to Action to enlist faith leaders as change agents to address the disparate impact of HIV/AIDS on the African American community. Over the next five years, this unique partnership will expand its pilot program, The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative, to reach the 30 cities that account for nearly two-thirds of the nation’s HIV epidemic.
“The Black Church and the NAACP have been partners in the struggle for social justice for more than a century. Today, our fight is against a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic that disproportionately impacts the lives of African Americans”
“The Black Church and the NAACP have been partners in the struggle for social justice for more than a century. Today, our fight is against a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic that disproportionately impacts the lives of African Americans,” said Roslyn M. Brock, Chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors. “For years, many felt that a discussion about HIV/AIDS had no place in African American houses of worship. However, the Black Church remains the cornerstone of our community and must be a critical voice and partner in helping to combat the HIV crisis.”
“The HIV/AIDS epidemic is not just a medical issue, it is a social justice issue,” stated Shavon Arline-Bradley, Senior Director of NAACP Health Programs. “HIV has increasingly attacked the African American community for the last three decades, leaving us with the highest rates of HIV and AIDS in the country. Our program, The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative, serves as a tool in the fight against HIV by giving faith leaders the resources they need to tackle this crisis in their churches.”
The program focuses on three strategies: providing local trainings for pastors and faith leaders in the Black Church, obtaining formal resolutions from the mainline denominations to incorporate HIV as a social justice issue into Church activities, and facilitating the integration of HIV-focused coursework into required curricula of historically Black seminaries. Specifically, the program will:
- Conduct 45 trainings across the 30 cities that make up nearly two thirds of the U.S. HIV epidemic across 17 states and the District of Columbia;
- Help secure formal resolutions from seven of nine historically Black denominations to engage pastors in advocacy about HIV as a social justice issue;
- Engage with 10 predominantly African American theological seminaries and integrate HIV materials into required curricula into five; and
- Train new full-time staff members dedicated to the initiative.
In the United States, African Americans bear the greatest burden of HIV, with the rate of new infections eight times that of whites. At the same time, African Americans are also the most connected to faith communities, with as many as 20 million congregants regularly attending church.
"HIV has become an epidemic in the Black community that can no longer be ignored. Faith leaders must be called to action," stated Dr. Timothy Sloan, Senior Pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas. "I have come to realize that not dealing with HIV is an act of pastoral irresponsibility. I am happy to be working with NAACP and Gilead Sciences to change the tide of this epidemic. HIV is in the church and the church must work to address it."
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.
About Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative therapeutics in areas of unmet medical need. The company’s mission is to advance the care of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases worldwide. Headquartered in Foster City, California, Gilead has operations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
About the Clinton Global Initiative
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,300 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 400 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $73.5 billion.