Virtual Training Manual


Dr. Timothy W. SloanSenior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

Welcome to The Black Church & HIV: The Social Justice Imperative online training for faith leaders on HIV. This training is designed to educate faith leaders about the disparate impact of HIV among African Americans, discuss HIV from a social justice perspective, and empower faith leaders with the necessary tools and resources to incorporate HIV activism into their congregation. The Black Church has a history of social justice advocacy, and as a trusted and influential voice in the Black community, Black faith leaders can be an influential force for change with respect to the HIV epidemic. By sharing the knowledge and tools that support HIV prevention, treatment and care, faith leaders can enable the estimated 20 million African Americans who attend church weekly to end HIV stigma and begin to view HIV through a social justice lens.

The Black Church &HIV: The Social Justice Imperative initiative is a result of a year-long, 11-city research tour with more than 250 faith leaders across from different denominations, who have identified best practices and challenges to addressing HIV within the Black Church. In 2013, the NAACP and Gilead Sciences, Inc. made a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action to scale up The Black Church & HIV initiative over a five-year period to reach the 30 cities that make up nearly two-thirds of the nation’s HIV epidemic. Aspiring to change the perception of HIV in the Black community, the initiative aims to establish a national network of Black faith leaders, religious institutions and community members committed to making systemic cultural and behavioral change in the communities hit hardest by HIV.


Dr. Timothy W. Sloan Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

The Black Church is a powerful instrument of support, comfort, and inspiration within the community. Most of all, it is a place where we as a people have always felt safe while being empowered and informed. No other institution has the influence to create change, address the stigma associated with HIV, and stop the social injustices that have led to its unequal impact in the Black community.

The Black Church has always been at the forefront of the fight for social justice. Black faith leaders have been a catalyst for change on critical social issues including voting rights and employment opportunities.The Black Church & HIV initiative is applying this tradition of social justice advocacy to the HIV epidemic, one of the most pressing health issues facing the Black community today with nearly 50 percent of all new infections occurring among African Americans.

There is the immediate need for faith leaders to take action and join The Black Church &HIV initiative in putting an end to HIV.

Historically, the Black Church and the NAACP have aligned to fight for civil rights. Today, this partnership is important in the fight for social justice. The disproportionate rate of African Americans affected by HIV calls for us to stand as a unified community and fight to combat the epidemic.

We may be a minority in number but with a collective voice we are a majority.


Dr. Timothy W. Sloan Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

What is HIV?

H: Human – this particular virus can only infect human beings
I: Immunodeficiency – weakens an immune system by destroying the cells that fight disease and infection
V: Virus – a virus can only reproduce itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host

A stronger understanding of HIV will better equip us to confront this epidemic and talk about it in a responsible way.

  • Once you have HIV, you always have the virus in your body. Currently, there is no cure but with medical care and treatment you can live a long and healthy life.
  • Over time, HIV can destroy your white blood cells (known as your T-cells or CD4 cells) preventing your body from fighting off infections and diseases.
  • HIV infection can lead to AIDS.

Knowing your HIV status is important for many reasons.

  • Many new HIV infections are caused by people unaware of their HIV status.
  • HIV medicines are more effective if you start them early.
  • Starting treatment early can mean the best health for you and a longer time before you develop AIDS or other infections. Unfortunately, most people do not find out they have HIV until the disease is at advanced stages.

Testing is quick and easy, and there are a number of places that you can be tested – HIV testing centers, health departments, hospitals, private doctors’ offices and clinics. To get tested:

  • Ask your doctor to do an HIV and STD test.
  • Ask your doctor where to find a local HIV testing site.
  • Visit the National HIV and STD Resources website to find a local testing site
  • Visit to see the prevalence of HIV in your community and find a testing site.
  • Call CDC-INFO at 800-232-4636 or 888-232-6348 (TDD) to find a local testing site.
  • Call your state HIV/AIDS hotline to find a testing site.

It is critical that you know your status.

African Americans bear the greatest burden of HIV than any other racial or ethnic group. These HIV disparities are influenced by social determinants of health: the circumstances in which people are born and grow up, the way they live and work, the life opportunities they receive, and the systems put into place to address social and health needs. For example: 1 in 15 Black men aged 18 and older are incarcerated.

The disparities in HIV rates among African Americans are evident in theseharsh realities:

  • If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world for new HIV infections.
  • While African Americans represent just 14% of the U.S. population, they account for 44% of all people living with HIV.
  • The rate of new infections among Black men is more than six times that of white men.
  • Unless the course of the epidemic changes, 1 in 16 Black men will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime and 1 in 32 Black women will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime.

These statistics point to one important fact: HIV is changing the makeup of our community, and we must be willing to confront the issue.


Dr. Timothy W. Sloan Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

Social justice is the sustained commitment to create a society that is equal and fair to all people. It is the equitable distribution of social, economic and political resources, opportunities, responsibilities and their consequences. Social justice affects the way people live, their chance of illness, and their risk of premature death.

Why is HIV a social justice issue for Black Americans? 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 get treatment
  • More likely to die as a result of complications from AIDS than any other race

There are many barriers that adversely impact the health of African Americans and lead to an increase of HIV infection rates, such as social environment. The social environment or ZIP code within which a person lives has a considerable impact on their behavior. For instance, a person who has one sexual partner in a community with high HIV prevalence will be more likely to contract HIV than a person who lives in an area with low HIV prevalence. Black people often live in concentrated areas with numerous individuals who are living with untreated HIV and/or other STDs. This means that there is a higher likelihood or risk of contracting HIV, regardless of behavior.

Other factors that increase the risk of HIV transmission include the following:

  • Stigma
  • Racism
  • Mass Incarceration
  • Trauma
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Access to Healthcare
  • Cultural Barriers across the African Diaspora

Understanding the influence and impact of each of these factors is critical to addressing the HIV epidemic in Black America.

What is health equity and why does it matter?

The Black Church & HIV initiative is working to achieve health equity for the Black community. Health equity means social justice in health – in other words, no one is denied the possibility to be healthy for belonging to a group that has historically been economically/socially disadvantaged.

There are inequitable economic and social policies that pertain to health, access to quality health care and insurance coverage that place an unfair burden on African American communities while giving disproportionate benefits to other groups. Addressing HIV in the African American community will require an advocacy agenda designed to change policies that affect health equity and access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care.


Dr. Timothy W. Sloan Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

In our lifetimes, we have the ability to see the end of HIV. For the first time, President Barack Obama is speaking about an AIDS-free generation. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy set forth by the Administration calls for reducing the disparities for racial and ethnic groups, and provides a roadmap for including annual HIV testing, prevention and access to quality healthcare. Advancements in prevention have made way for the Getting to Zero movement: Zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero tolerance for discrimination.

Getting to zero can only be a reality if we act now. We must address the myths and misconceptions in our community about HIV. The NAACP is on the front lines of the battle, and its partnership with the Black Church means a major difference in the way we view and deal with the virus. Without action, this epidemic will continue to disproportionately affect our families, our brothers and sisters, and our communities.


Dr. Timothy W. Sloan Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

With a firm understanding of how HIV impacts the Black community, we can develop a strategy for how to address the epidemic through faith-based activities.

A ministry that incorporates social justice should be:

  • Grounded in social justice work and the teachings of Jesus Christ. . A grounded ministry is based on the Word of God and rooted in prayer. We must lead our congregations and communities to incorporate health and wellness in their prayers.
  • Sensitive to and affirming differences. Social justice cannot be achieved following a one-size-fits-all approach. We must be aware of the differences within our communities and the reality of HIV, and demonstrate our understanding by being inclusive in our ministry.
  • Knowledgeable about basic HIV facts. One obstacle keeping faith leaders from addressing HIV/AIDS within their communities is a lack of knowledge. The information outlined in the previous chapter dispels the myths that many associate with HIV/AIDS, and creates a better understanding of how people and communities are affected
  • Sustained by committed leadership. We cannot change the world in one day, but if we continue to come together and raise our collective voices with a passion to eradicate this epidemic, we can make a difference.


Dr. Timothy W. Sloan Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

We cannot create awareness without beginning the conversation. There are four stages of advocacy that you can employ to educate and engage your congregation in HIV activism:

  • AWARENESS serves as the foundation for activism, and helps people understand how HIV is a social justice issue.
    • Preach a sermon on HIV. The sermon is one of the most important components of worship, and integrating HIV messaging into sermons is a powerful way to reach congregations.
    • Host an educational workshop. Workshops allow for in-depth, interactive education, and allow time for discussion and reflection
  • ENGAGEMENT makes the direct connection between HIV activism and serving others through ministry.
    • Host a church-based HIV screening. Education about HIV must extend beyond the facts. HIV screenings can be conducted in coordination with local health clinics or providers
    • Promote safe sex and condom accessibility. Social justice calls for equal access to resources, education and care. One of the barriers to protection is a lack of access to condoms and knowledge about safe sex practices. While the approach to distribution varies, providing condoms and safe sex education can help reduce the risk of HIV for those who may not otherwise have access
    • Host community events. We must reach beyond those sitting in our pews with messages about HIV and social justice. Host health fairs, film screenings, discussions and other community events and distribute information to attendees.
  • MOBILIZATION means actively involving congregants in activities that advocate on behalf of those at risk of being affected and/or infected by HIV.

    • Technology and use of new media. Social marketing campaigns led by faith leaders have the potential to reach members of the church and the community with key messages about HIV prevention, care and treatment.
    • Street outreach and education .Empower people to go into the community, whether it is to schools, recreation centers, public transportation hubs or elsewhere, to provide fact-based information on HIV.
    • Maintain a legislative presence. Advocacy for this social justice issue is critical for the church and the NAACP. It is important to stay active in creating, shaping and monitoring the policies that enhance the well-being of our community.
  • SUSTAINABLE CHANGE is critical to eliminating HIV/AIDS. Faith leaders can make HIV activism a permanent component by developing programs that address social injustices within the community.
    • Coalition building and collaborative partnerships. By partnering with other churches and health organizations, ministries can increase their effectiveness and share resources.
    • Pastoral counseling. As faith leaders, it is important to remain sensitive to the complexity of HIV prevention. Discussions about dating, marriage, pregnancy, health and other important topics must include a conversation about HIV risk and prevention strategies.
    • HIV support services. Through the church, connect people with prevention, education, testing, and care and treatment providers.


Dr. Timothy W. Sloan Senior Pastor at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

The Black Church & HIV Ambassador

Being a part of a community of faith means that our very foundation is the word of God. And nothing is impossible with God.

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
– James 2:17 (New International Version)


Now is the time for action and we cannot be successful in the fight against HIV without you, our faith leaders and change agents. We hope that you will partner with The Black Church & HIV and commit to making a real difference by educating and engaging your community. Use one or more of the strategies learned in this training and commit to act. You can download the full training manual for additional information.

Please complete the partnership form to tell us about your commitment to raise awareness and advocate for change.

Our passionate response to social injustice will ensure we leave a legacy for future generations. Together, we will make a difference.