02/08/05 — Rebuilding Broken Places' initiates AIDS prevention campaign

View Archive

Rebuilding Broken Places' initiates AIDS prevention campaign

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 8, 2005 2:05 PM

Rebuilding Broken Places CDC is launching a campaign to prevent HIV/AIDS and to encourage churches to reach out to people who are infected.

The campaign draws its name, "Willing To Touch," from Luke 5:12-13, which recounts Jesus' healing of a leper, said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II.

"Jesus was willing to show unusual grace and touch someone who was ill," Barber said Monday. "The church must have the same grace."

An informational meeting will be held Thursday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenleaf Vision of Faith Community Center, 2105 N. William St. Rebuilding Broken Places is inviting all faith leaders to come and learn more about HIV/AIDS infection rates, particularly those in the African-American community.

The keynote speaker will be the Rev. William Lee of Roanoke, Va. Lee is the pastor of Loudon Avenue Christian Church in Roanoke, Va., and a professor of religion at Roanoke College.

Lee has established an HIV ministry, and Rebuilding Broken Places officials hope to encourage area churches to set up support groups for people with HIV or AIDS.

But the meeting would be good information for anyone, not just African-Americans and not just religious leaders, said Archibald Black, executive director of Rebuilding Broken Places.

"We would like to invite the City Council, county commissioners, school board members. ... We need to get the word out," Black said.

Rebuilding Broken Places has hired Ieasha Stubbs to coordinate the "Willing to Touch" initiative. She will work with Black, two advisors and AmeriCorps volunteers to talk to churches and raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

While the campaign promote abstinence, it will also give people information about ways to avoid infection during sex, drug use or other risky behaviors. It will encourage people who are at-risk to be tested.

Another goal will be to give better support to people who have already been infected. Such assistance needs to be non-judgmental, Barber said. "The Bible says that we have all sinned ... They are still our brothers and sisters."

The Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities has given Rebuilding Broken Places a $30,000 grant for the project, Barber said.

The campaign was announced Monday, which was National Black HIV and AIDS Awareness and Information.

Between 1998-2002, new HIV cases were reported among blacks at nearly 10 times the rates reported among whites, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

As of 2003, about 25 of every 100,000 North Carolinians were reported to be infected. But black males were four times more likely to be infected than the general public as a whole.

Including data from all races, Wayne County had the 21st highest rate of HIV infection among North Carolina's 100 counties, as of 2003.