Many African-American preachers in Kansas City—once silent on the issue of HIV/AIDS—are speaking out and raising awareness from the pulpit as HIV rates in the city continue to rise, Kansas City newspaper The Pitch reports (, 5/29).

According to the article, researchers say that after a more than 14 percent hike in HIV infections over the last few years, the HIV epidemic in Kansas City rivals some of the most heavily infected regions in the world. More than two thirds of people living with HIV in the city are minorities, The Pitch reports.

The Rev. Eric Williams was one of few African-American pastors in the city 15 years ago who provided funeral services for people who died of AIDS-related illnesses.

Awareness has “been slow growth,” he said. “Churches are asked to be involved in everything from blood donations to diabetes. But I think [AIDS] needs to be on the palette of services we all provide.”