Black churches in Chicago are fighting rising HIV rates among black residents by becoming advocates for HIV testing, more government HIV/AIDS funding and HIV prevention education, the Chicago Tribune reports.

According to the article, more Chicago churches are introducing HIV/AIDS outreach ministries, preaching tolerance messages and putting a face on HIV by having speakers living with the virus address congregations about its misconceptions.  

Efforts to encourage testing and erase stigma include integrating HIV testing into church events and programs, as well as having churchgoers witness their pastors taking HIV tests.  

Several Chicago ministers are members of a national coalition of 50 preachers promoting government legislation for public health agencies and faith-based grants for HIV testing and prevention and programs targeting black women, youth and men who have sex with men.

According to the Chicago Department of Health, African Americans represent 36 percent of the city’s population, but they account for 55 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases and 54 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in their city.