About the Initiative

About The Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative

In the United States, the Black community bears the greatest burden of the HIV epidemic, more than any other racial or ethnic group. While African Americans represent just 12% of the total population, they account for 41% of all people living with HIV and 44% of all new infections. In fact, if the African-American community were its own country, it would rank 11th in the world for new HIV infections. Today, the HIV epidemic is one of the most pressing health issues facing the Black community.

To address the urgent need for action, The Black Church & HIV initiative was established to form a national network of faith leaders, religious institutions, and community members committed to making change and ending the HIV epidemic in Black America. There is an immediate need for faith leaders to take action for what is happening with HIV in the Black community. For generations, the Black Church has been a leader for change in the Black community on issues of social justice, including voting rights and employment opportunities. Today, we are applying this tradition of social justice advocacy to the HIV epidemic.

The NAACP, in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc., made a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action in 2013 to further the initiative and enlist faith leaders as change agents to address the disparate and severe impact of HIV on African Americans. The initiative is working to overcome stigma and address HIV as an issue of social justice by:

  • Conducting faith leader trainings across the 30 U.S. cities with the greatest HIV burden
  • Obtaining formal resolutions from mainline denominations to incorporate HIV messaging into Church activities
  • Integrating HIV-related materials into required course curricula in predominantly Black seminaries.

So far, we have:

Why It Matters

We believe in social justice. We believe in a sustained commitment to create a society that is equal and fair for all people. We believe that health equity is a social justice challenge, and that no one should be denied the possibility to be healthy because they belong to a group that has historically been economically and socially disadvantaged.

On average, African Americans are likely to experience worse health outcomes than any other racial or ethnic group. As a high-risk population, African Americans are:

  • More likely to progress from HIV to AIDS within one year of being diagnosed with HIV
  • Less likely to know they have HIV
  • Less likely to seek treatment
  • More likely to die as a result of complications from AIDS than any other race

When we see anything disproportionally affecting one group of people more than others, whether it is poverty, education or health, we must question if the root cause has to do with social injustices. HIV disparities have more to do with the systematic realities of health care and society than individual or group behaviors. The high rates of HIV among Black people in the U.S. point to the overwhelming injustices in the political, healthcare, economic, and educational systems.

This threat to the survival and well-being of our community is a social injustice. HIV is impacting our community, and it is our responsibility to speak out and fight the systems that make and keep us vulnerable to HIV infection. We invite you to join our fight for a system that ensures that we all have access to the information, insurance, prevention, care, and treatment that we deserve.

Advisors and Ambassadors

THE BLACK CHURCH & HIV ADVISORY COMMITTEE

  • Bishop Oliver C. Allen III, Senior Pastor and Founder, The Vision Church of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
  • Dr. Rose Blackburne, NAACP Health Committee Member
  • Reverend William Francis, Lead Servant, Atlanta Faith In Action, Atlanta, GA
  • Reverend Dr. David Goatley, NAACP Board of Directors Member
  • Reverend Doris Green, Men & Women In Prison Ministries, Chicago, IL
  • Reverend Edwin C. Sanders, II, Senior Servant and Founder, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church, Nashville, TN
  • Reverend Dr. Timothy W. Sloan, Senior Pastor, St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church (The Luke), Humble, TX
  • Reverend Charles Straight, Pastor, Faith United Methodist Church, Chicago, IL
  • Reverend Dr. Todd Yeary, Senior Pastor, Douglas Memorial Community, Baltimore, MD

THE BLACK CHURCH & HIV AMBASSADORS

  • Reverend Dr. Steven Blunt, Pastor, First Baptist Church Mahan Street, Suffolk, VA
  • Pastor John R. Faison, Sr., Senior Pastor, Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, TN
  • Dr. Charley Hames, Jr., Senior Pastor, Beebe Memorial Cathedral, Oakland, CA
  • Tony Lee, Senior Pastor, Community of Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church, Washington, DC
  • Pastor Jeffrey L. Reaves, Sr., Senior Minister, Good Shepherd Baptist Church, Petersburg, VA
  • Reverend C. Edward Rhodes II, Pastor, Mt. Helm Baptist Church, Jackson, MS
  • Reverend Dr. Timothy W. Sloan, Senior Pastor, St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church (The Luke), Humble, TX
  • Reverend Charles Straight, Pastor, Faith United Methodist Church, Chicago, IL
  • Reverend Dr. Todd Yeary, Senior Pastor, Douglas Memorial Community, Baltimore, MD