What Is Our Faith Lights The Way?
Our Faith Lights the Way! is a national campaign designed to mobilize all faith communities, especially African Americans, to speak loudly from their pulpits to educate and encourage every person in their congregation and community to Get Tested for HIV.
Our Faith Lights the Way! is a movement of faith communities to stop the stigma and shame associated with HIV/AIDS; educate everyone about the disease; and encourage and support HIV testing services.
Our Faith Lights the Way! is a mechanism to support faith leaders and congregations who are ready to move beyond phase one of creating AIDS community awareness to phase two: AIDS Action – Getting people tested for HIV!
1000 Congregations campaignThe recent announcement that HIV among Black women far exceeds the national average in Newark, Raleigh-Durham, Baltimore, New York and Washington, DC should have HIV Testing on everyone’s mind, especially in these cities. The HIV rates among Black women in these cities are being compared to HIV rates in the Congo, a nation located in sub-Sahara Africa. African Americans, at large, are carrying a heavy burden by having the highest rates of HIV than any other ethnic group in the United States. According to CDC, African Americans are 14% of the US population and hold the record of having 44% of the new HIV infections in the nation. It is projected that 1 in 4 African Americans will contract HIV within their lifetime.
The Balm In Gilead appeals to ALL congregations of EVERY faith and background, who care about people and the impact HIV is having on our lives, to host at least one HIV Testing Event during the month of June, in support of National HIV Testing Day in June.
We ask a minimum of 1000 Congregations, across our nation, to join us in our collective efforts to bring an End to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic by hosting an HIV Testing Event and supporting all persons living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to LIVE positively!
For more information, contact:
Mr. Cary Goodman
We Can Stop The Spread Of HIV In Our Communities
As a compassionate congregation, your place of worship can act against AIDS by shining the light so that all can see! Please join thousands of faith institutions and participate in Our Faith Lights the Way! HIV Testing Campaign. Visit www.balmingilead.org or call 888-225-6243 to get more information.
People in the United States know about the devastation caused by AIDS in Africa and other parts of the world. However, many don’t see what is happening right here at home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every 91/2 minutes, someone in the US becomes infected with HIV.
This means, during our weekly 2-hour worship service another 13 people become infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. While we are in worship service, someone’s mother or father, son or daughter, friend, neighbor, or congregation member join the estimated 56,300 Americans newly infected with HIV each year.
The reported rates of HIV/AIDS are disproportionately high in African Americans and other minority communities. According to the CDC, 1 in 16 African American men and 1 in 30 African American women will become infected with the AIDS virus in their lifetime.
After almost 30 years of fighting the HIV epidemic, we have not yet solved this problem. HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health threat in the United States. Unfortunately, far too many persons living with HIV in the United States do not know they have the virus in their bodies. Thus, the virus is spreading to others by persons who do no know they have the virus. We must get tested for HIV. We must know our status and stop the spread of this epidemic!
Why HIV Testing Is So Important?
In the United States, it is estimated that 1 in 5 people, who are HIV positive, are unaware that they are infected with HIV. Some 14,000 people die each year from AIDS-related illness in the United States. People who are unaware of their HIV status can unknowingly infect others. Many of the new infections occur each year because people who don’t know they are HIV+ participate in behaviors that may put others at risk. (Such as having unprotected sex and sharing needles and syringes). Many individuals do not have symptoms during the initial stages of HIV infection. Getting and receiving the results of an HIV Test is the only way for a person to know his or her HIV status.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine HIV testing in health care settings. Everyone should get tested for HIV. Many people refuse to get tested for HIV because they are afraid of being stigmatized and shamed. Despite laws that prohibit discrimination against people living with HIV, far too often, social isolation still occur. Faith communities can play a major role in dismantling the stigma associated with this disease by encouraging everyone to get tested for HIV and providing compassion to everyone, regardless of their test results, gender or sexual orientation.