The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS (NWPHA) is the expansion of what once was the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. Every year, the NWPHA works to bring national attention to the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., while emphasizing the role faith communities have in the fight to end AIDS.
This year, during the week of March 4 – 11, the NWPHHA is encouraging faith leaders across the country to participate in the conversation about HIV with their congregations and specifically engage youth to reinforce the downward trend of HIV through generations. While African Americans account for just 12 percent of the U.S. population, they also account for an alarming 40 percent of all people living with HIV. This disparity is equally alarming amongst youths as those between the ages of 13 – 24 accounted for 22 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the U.S. in 2015, according to the CDC.
Undoubtedly, there is an urgency for faith leaders to share HIV awareness with the young people among their congregations and communities. With knowledge comes power. We must start by educating our communities and specifically our youth on how they can take steps to reduce their own risks or how to successfully navigate HIV care systems.
There is a critical need for healing and faith leaders have the unique power to tap into our communities to not only educate and inspire action in the fight against HIV, but also lead youth spiritually.
For this reason, I want to share a few ways that you can get your community involved today:
- Register your church and join our movement by dedicating some of your congregation’s weekly discussions to the impact of HIV on black youths
- Share the latest information on youth and HIV in America
- Show your participation by hanging a national campaign banner in front of your place of worship or inside your sanctuary
- Make HIV information available in your church and promote testing through direct service or with partnerships through local community health services
Most importantly during this week, I implore you to pray for the those living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS, pray for churches to be places of support and comfort for those impacted, and pray for pastors and seminary students to be equipped to serve.
We cannot turn the tide without the faith community.
Initiative ambassador Reverend Doris Green is the CEO of Men & Women in Prison Ministries in Chicago, Illinois. M&WIPM provide services that promote spiritual and cultural awareness, health education, and comprehensive services to the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated, their families, and the community at large. Reverend Green can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.