CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County has seen a 50 percent increase in HIV disease cases since 2000, reports the health department. In 2005, 69 percent of new HIV cases were among African-Americans.
RAIN (Regional AIDS Interfaith Network) will mark the 10th Annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS with special worship and educational programs beginning March 4. RAIN joins thousands of churches and organizations across the nation observing The Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS in an effort to stop the transmission of HIV/AIDS and provide compassion for people affected by the disease.
The Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS services in Charlote are open to the public, and include the following events:
• March 6 — Prayer and Praise Service at Unity Fellowship Church, 2127 Eastway Dr., 6 p.m.
• March 8 — Worship Service at Little Rock AME Zion Church, 401 N. McDowell St., 7 p.m.
“HIV/AIDS is rising at alarming rates among African-Americans in our region,” says Rev. Deborah Warren, president and CEO of RAIN. “We must encourage people to learn more about the disease and to get tested. It is imperative that our congregations take the lead in disseminating this information.”
• After more than twenty-five years since the onset of the HIV epidemic, the HIV infection rates continue to soar in the African-American community at rates 10 times higher than that among whites.
• AIDS is the leading cause of death among African-American women ages 25 - 34; seventy-eight percent of whom were infected through heterosexual transmission.
• The stigma and shame that has become associated with HIV/AIDS continue to be the biggest barriers to persons getting tested and seeking medical care for HIV/AIDS. As a result, HIV/AIDS infection rates and deaths continue to rise and devastate the African-American community.
The Black Church Week of Prayer will focus upon mobilizing the African American congregations to demonstrate compassion and mercy in ways that encourage people to talk honestly about the struggles without the fear of rejection by the church. Many who are considered to be at high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS still feel they will be judged, rejected and abandoned by their churches and communities.
For more information about Black Church Week of Prayer events, please contact Rev. Willie Wade, minority program director at RAIN at 704-372-7246, ext. 115, or go to www.carolinarain.org.