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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
FLORIDA: Churches Doing More to Fight HIV/AIDS
John Bozzo
July 17, 2007
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."

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