Daytona Beach News-Journal (07.16.07) - Tuesday, July 17, 2007
At St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Holly Hill, the Rev.
Michael Mitchell hopes soon to receive authorization to offer
the rapid-result HIV test. If approved, it would be the only
local faith community certified to perform HIV testing.
"The main reason for me is I had two cousins who died of
AIDS," Mitchell said. "That's why it's important for me to get
the word out, not just to black people, but to all people, on
the importance of being tested."
"I don't stick to abstinence," Mitchell said of his messages
on AIDS. "I talk about condoms. Sex is happening. We need to
teach how important it is to get tested."
Anthony Chester is a member of St. Paul's and an HIV educator
who is a counselor at the Stewart-Marchman Center, which deals
with substance abuse. "There is a lot of distrust. That's a
constant theme of every conference I go to: 'Why is there
still distrust between the African-American community and
health care professionals?' Hopefully, the church will break
that barrier down, and trust will be generated."
Getting churches on-board for the fight against AIDS was the
purpose of a meeting held over the weekend at the Wyndham
Orlando Resort. "We felt that since HIV and AIDS is the
number-one killer of African Americans, we had to get more
involved," said the Rev. Kelvin Bodley of Fairness Ministries,
an organizer. "We felt we had to mobilize the churches. We
have to start a serious dialogue."