October #52 : General Delivery - by Shana Naomi Krochmal

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Table of Contents

Love Me Gender

21st Century Vax

How to get There From There

Fear of a Vax Planet


Letters to the Editor October 1999

The End of an Epidemic?

General Delivery

Veep Show

Black Is...Black Ain't

Memo for the Millennium

Addicted to Life

The Club Scene

Get Over It

Nuking it Out

Babes Out of the Woods

A Vicious Cycle

First Things First

On the Cutting Edge

Great White Hope

Northern Light

I Sing The Body Electric

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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October 1999

General Delivery

by Shana Naomi Krochmal

At the third-annual National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality in July, the usually low-key U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher made palms sweat by bluntly calling church leaders to preach HIV prevention from the pulpit. "If we don't talk about sex, sex can kill," the doctor told the audience of 600-plus African American clergy and laypeople. Satcher, a former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has made AIDS a big piece of his platform since he was appointed in 1998. He recently spoke with POZ about his vision.

What prompted you to speak out?
It relates to my memories of what life was like as a child in Alabama before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) brought the black community together to stand up for civil rights. For decades before, African Americans felt there was little to do about these problems. Today, the community is falling dangerously behind in the war on AIDS. We have conducted ourselves far too long as if this disease did not relate to us, or as if there were nothing we could do about it. But just as in the civil-rights era, black churches and local community groups are in a unique position to be the agents of change.

How can we best educate about HIV?
We need to develop positive programs that reach out to our youth and teach responsible sexual behavior and the value of committed relationships. Religion can play a powerful role in helping to change attitudes among youth from hopelessness to hope. Young people without hope for the future will do anything. We have to give them the promise of a future with dignity. Churches can also help teach about the specialness of sex: that it has to do with more than sexual activity—it has to do with relationships and respect for other people.

What practice do you preach?
We must not be afraid, ashamed or too busy to reach out to our neighbors to prevent HIV. To dismiss HIV today is to dismiss our sons and daughters, our nieces and nephews, our sisters and brothers, our friends, and even our babies.

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