On July 20, the NAACP will recognize the third annual nationwide Day of Unity, to combat the social injustices that have led to the disparate impact that HIV has on Black America. A cornerstone of The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative initiative, the Day of Unity encourages pastors to address the epidemic’s impact on the Black community with their congregations, by preaching from the pulpit about HIV as a social justice issue.
The HIV epidemic is a health crisis in the Black community, and eliminating it will require a sustained commitment. Black Americans account for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. while only comprising 12 percent of the population. Almost half (510,000) of the estimated 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. are Black.
This year, the Day of Unity is calling upon pastors to commit to the following actions:
· Preach – From the pulpit to the pew with messages about HIV
· Share – On social media using the hashtag #DayofUnity, with local media, and in your community
· Act – Fight HIV with a testing drive or community event
Historically, the NAACP and Black faith leaders have been a catalyst for change on critical social issues including voting rights and employment opportunities. An estimated 20 million Black Americans attend church every week. Pastors have an unparalleled opportunity to engage parishioners to end HIV stigma and begin to view the disease as a critical social justice issue facing their communities.
Faith leaders can pledge to join in the Day of Unity at http://www.TheBlackChurchandHIV.org.