POZ Exclusives : 1,000 Points of Faith: Church-to-Church Prevention in South Carolina - by Kellee Terrell

POZ - Health, Life and HIV
Subscribe to:
POZ magazine
Newsletters
Join POZ: Facebook MySpace Twitter Pinterest
Tumblr Google+ Flickr MySpace
POZ Personals
Sign In / Join
Username:
Password:

Back to home » POZ Exclusives » October 2006

Most Popular Links
Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle

Shingles

Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

15 Years Ago In POZ


More Web Exclusives

Click here for more news

Have news about HIV? Send press releases, news tips and other announcements to news@poz.com.


emailprint

October 25, 2006

1,000 Points of Faith: Church-to-Church Prevention in South Carolina

by Kellee Terrell

October 25, 2006—Pastor Marilyn Chisholm is organizing an HIV movie night this fall for teenagers in the parish she runs in one of Columbia, South Carolina’s most blighted neighborhoods. And the kids in her GoGirlGo! program are about to start learning about HIV, alongside the lessons they’re already getting about body image and smoking.

For the first time in her urban church’s difficult nine-year history, Chisholm is getting some HIV prevention money from the state of South Carolina—and she plans on putting it to good use.

“My members really care about making people aware,” she says of the drug addicts, sex workers and homeless people whom she— inspired by her own bouts with crack and prison—gathered in 1997 to form the Chisholm Outreach Ministries. “We always wanted to do things. We just didn’t have the money.”

South Carolina’s HIV rate ranks tenth in the nation, and Columbia, the state capital, is number 11th among U.S. cities. But the $1 million state grant going out to 24 mostly black churches this year is the first AIDS prevention money of any kind that the state government has coughed up since 1984. “My colleagues ignored HIV because they looked at it as a black and poor disease,” says state Representative Joseph Neal (Dem.).

Neal is one of the driving forces behind the $1 million program, known as Project F.A.I.T.H. (Fostering AIDS Initiatives That Heal). The non-profit South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council conceived of it as a way of using the unique networking abilities of black churches to get the word out about HIV in the state, where three out of every four people with HIV are African American.

AIDS ministries in African-American communities are nothing new; there are more than 20 of them in South Carolina alone and hundreds nationwide. The idea behind Project F.A.I.T.H. is to hook up black churches doing AIDS counseling and prevention with others that would like to do the same—but are short on cash and know-how.

Among the 24 grant recipients, two already have programs under way, adopting families during the holidays, perhaps, or running health fairs, teen groups or Internet projects. They’re receiving $25,000 each to do more of the same while also helping out churches, such as Chisholm Outreach Ministries, where AIDS prevention programs are a first and their own $2,500 to $15,000 grants will lay down a foundation for the future.

Changing minds at churches where AIDS stigma and homophobia are still strong is not part of this project. The consciousness-raising comes later. “We don’t have time [for those who] aren’t ready,” explains Council director Bambi Gaddist, PhD. “But we know that we will recruit more as time passes.”

It was Gaddist who spearheaded the research project behind Project F.A.I.T.H. The Council looked closely at parishes throughout the state and saw great promise for the concept of church-on-church HIV education. Enter Rep. Neal, who also serves as pastor at the Calvary Baptist Church in nearby Chester. Armed with Gaddist’s findings, Neal crossed partisan and racial lines to push Project F.A.I.T.H. through the legislature in a record three months.

Neal says the key was bringing legislators up to date on HIV’s economic impact on South Carolina. Last year alone, it cost the state $6.5 million in lost wages.

The state’s HIV needs go way beyond prevention, boasting as it does one of the longest ADAP treatment waiting lists in the country (it has tripled in length since July). But South Carolina is also one of the states with the most churches per square mile. “Project F.A.I.T.H. gives us the opportunity to collaborate with churches who are innovative thinkers,” says Gaddist. “The possibilities are endless.”


[Go to top]

Facebook Twitter Google+ MySpace YouTube Tumblr Flickr Instagram
Quick Links
Current Issue

HIV Testing
Safer Sex
Find a Date
Newly Diagnosed
HIV 101
Disclosing Your Status
Starting Treatment
Help Paying for Meds
Search for the Cure
POZ Stories
POZ Opinion
POZ Exclusives
Read the Blogs
Visit the Forums
Job Listings
Events Calendar
POZ on Twitter

Ask POZ Pharmacist

Talk to Us
Poll
Should the U.S. gay blood ban end?
Yes
No

Survey
Smoke Signals

more surveys
Contact Us
We welcome your comments!
[ about Smart + Strong | about POZ | POZ advisory board | partner links | advertising policy | advertise/contact us | site map]
© 2014 Smart + Strong. All Rights Reserved. Terms of use and Your privacy.
Smart + Strong® is a registered trademark of CDM Publishing, LLC.