In order to make people understand that being HIV+ does not make you any different from any other person, Rev. Stephen Thurston from New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago allowed a health worker to take a swab from his upper and lower gums. Then, he proceeded with his sermon and afterwards, the health worker declared that the Reverend had tested negative for HIV.
Thurston’s aim for doing this was to increase awareness about HIV+ people and the discrimination that they face in their daily lives. But still, this is something strange in an African-American church as earlier topics like AIDS and HIV were never discussed. This is despite the fact that the number of HIV+ African-Americans is considerably higher than other population groups.
Some of the pastors also condemned this disease and the people suffering from it. The main reason for this was lack of information and confusion between issues like religion, sex and homosexuality.
But these days, most of the black churches have changed their attitudes and they are also supporting various measures like increased funding, testing and creating more awareness for this disease. They have also started to embrace gays and the lesbian community, which they earlier ignored.
Rev. Stephen Thurston stressed that the response towards HIV+ people should be compassionate and now, he wants to work for the welfare and the well being of people suffering from HIV/AIDS.
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