Black Clergy Confronting AIDS Epidemic

Kansas City, MO – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year, 40,000 people become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Close to 30 per cent of those people don't even know that they have HIV. What is known is that in Kansas and Missouri combined, African Americans accounted for 39 to 43 per cent of newly diagnosed HIV cases last year.

In the past, many Christian churches have avoided addressing the problem of AIDS because they do not condone sex outside of marriage or homosexuality, both lifestyles associated with the disease. Yet with more people contracting AIDS, some clergy are considering innovative ways to help stop the spread of HIV.

Some preachers may feel uncomfortable with the idea of rap music and talk of AIDS in church, but not Reverend Eric Williams, pastor of Calvary Temple Baptist Church. At least, not anymore. Williams is now co-chair of the Kansas City Chapter of the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS , which was this past week.

Also, basketball legend Magic Johnson happened to be in town, promoting a new line of formal clothing at Harold Pener's Man of Fashion. Johnson, diagnosed with HIV in 1991, had some advice for others dealing with the disease.