Commercial Appeal (Memphis) (11.21.11) - Wednesday, November
On Sunday, 2,911 wooden stakes with red ribbons were driven
into the ground near the intersection of Poplar and East
Parkway in Memphis, and each one represented a Shelby County
life claimed by HIV/AIDS since 1985.
Since 2001, members of two nearby congregations, First Baptist
Church of Memphis and Greater Lewis Street Missionary Baptist
Church, have worked with the HIV/AIDS awareness group Friends
For Life to install the markers for World AIDS Day, officially
observed Dec. 1. FFL estimates 8,000 Shelby County residents
"It affects everybody in this community," said FFL Executive
Director Kim Daugherty. "We all know someone who is either
living with or has died from this pandemic."
"Unfortunately, the greatest personal toll on a family and
people we see living with HIV today is simply the stigma of
living with HIV," Daugherty continued. "Many people continue
to not get tested early because they're fearful of the
diagnosis they may receive. And after receiving that
diagnosis, they don't feel like they can tell their family."
CDC estimates that 20 percent of those with HIV/AIDS are
Greater Lewis Street Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Myron
Donald maintains unity is "critical" to diagnosis and
"Knowledge is power," said Donald. "The more we can increase
the knowledge - the more we can understand the disease better,
how it impacts us - it increases our ability to send the
positive message, to get over the stereotypes and stigmas.
From the church perspective, it's a message of love."