Chicago church raising awareness of HIV in unique way

Chicago church raising awareness of HIV in unique way

The Rev. Joseph Gordon is making a difference in his community. When he was nine-years-old, he saw his mother’s best friend die of AIDS and saw how the disease ravaged his body.

This year, in honor of World AIDS Day, he took a bold step to educate the parishioners of his south side of Chicago church, Carter Temple CME Church, about HIV testing.

On Sunday, November 30, after his late morning service, Rev. Gordon and his administrative staff received HIV tests in front of the pulpit.

He figured if he was going to tell his congregation they needed to get tested, he should also lead by example.

“I really wanted to observe World AIDS Day in a meaningful way. I wanted people to understand the importance of the issue,” Rev. Gordon says.

Thirty-five million people worldwide are currently living with HIV or AIDS and that includes more than three million children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Every 9.5 minutes someone in the U.S. is infected by HIV, and many don’t know they are infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rev. Gordon, whose church is predominately African American, says, “the prevalence of HIV is a serious issue and should be treated as such.” He also wanted others to get over the stigma of getting tested, which causes many people to live with and transfer the disease without knowing.

After the service, members of the congregation were urged to take HIV tests in the lower level of the church. The program was something he did in Detroit, where he was previously a pastor.

“When we look at all the lives that are lost, both young and old, from this disease and the greater access to health care that we can provide, we want to do anything we can to educate people about getting tested,” Rev. Gordon says

Rev. Gordon collaborated with Donna Sinclair, rapid HIV coordinator at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, to put on the World AIDS Day event.

“We have to speak out about HIV. We must continue to advocate in order to create change and that’s why World AIDS Day is so important,” Sinclair says, who also sits on a citywide subcommittee working to make routine HIV testing mandatory. “It gives the folks on the ground fighting tirelessly to help eradicate the HIV virus a voice. Together we are greater than AIDS.”

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  1. How is educating people about something, and one they arguably should know about giving how long AIDS has been around, considered “bold?”

  2. 1 in 6 Americans are living with the disease? HIV? That would be 50 million Americans. Then your article states that 35 million are living with the disease worldwide? That is probably more accurate. Did you mean “affected” by the disease? What are the current recommendations regarding routine screening for HIV. I was under the impression that without known risk factors, routine screening is not advised? I understand that the prevalence is higher in the African American community but typical church going folk and especially pastors are not likely to be considered “at risk” and will not benefit from routine screening.

  3. Scheer-

    Thanks, for your comment. Posted below are the new United States Prevention Task Force recommentations for HIV screening.
    The USPSTF recommends that clinicians screen for HIV infection in adolescents and adults aged 15 to 65 years. Younger adolescents and older adults who are at increased risk should also be screened.

    The evidence is insufficient to determine optimum time intervals for HIV screening. One reasonable approach would be one-time screening of adolescent and adult patients to identify persons who are already HIV-positive, with repeated screening of those who are known to be at risk for HIV infection, those who are actively engaged in risky behaviors, and those who live or receive medical care in a high-prevalence setting.

    Based on this recommendation, it would be safe to say that any individual between the recommended ages, who has not been screened, should at the least be screened one – time regardless of who they are.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.