Kicking off the National Baptist Convention USA's Congress of Christian Education on June 22, African-American Baptist leaders and health professionals discussed ways in which to better address HIV in the black community, the Detroit Free Press reports. About 40,000 people are expected to participate in all or parts of the five-day conference.

According to the article, conference attendees said one reason blacks are not being tested is because they fear racist treatment by medical professionals. During the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which lasted from 1932 to 1972 in Alabama, many African-American patients died because they were intentionally untreated for research purposes.

“This is also tied up in religion,” said Evelyn Mason, who coordinated the AIDS forum. “We are so deeply rooted in the Lord waiting to take care of me that we sometimes overlook those things the Lord is waiting for us to take care of.”

African Americans account for half of the AIDS cases diagnosed in 2005, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.