• HIV/AIDS Inspiration

    Faith and AIDS 2012: Robert Newells

    Rob Newells E1457487862364

    There was only one session on the Faith-based Roadmap for Monday: “Many Women, One Voice.” I didn’t get to the session at the United States Conference on AIDS in Chicago where the video was screened last November, and I heard nothing but great things from the folks who saw it, so I wanted to be sure not to miss it again.  

    Before I got to the Global Village Screening Room for “Many Women, One Voice,” I attended a couple of regular conference sessions. The early session on “Health Disparities and the U.S. MSM Epidemic” yielded a surprise bit of information. Somewhere buried in the data that included employment status and income level and sexual risk and a host of other variables tracked during an HIV prevention research study focused on black men (HPTN 061) was an item about religious affiliation. Apparently, black men living with HIV are significantly more likely to have a religious affiliation than HIV-negative black men. I’m not sure how to interpret that tidbit of information, but I thought it was interesting.

    Now, “Many Women, One Voice.” I’m glad I didn’t miss it again. Bay Area folks in-the-know are sure to recognize Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Dr. Marsha Martin, and Cynthia Carey-Grant in the 20-minute video that highlights black women. (You know black heterosexual women are right behind Latino MSM when it comes to new HIV infections, right?) This video is geared towards those women who don’t see themselves at risk for HIV infection – professional, insured, even monogamous. I’m already planning to approach some Women’s Ministries and other church groups about setting up discussion groups to view it. Sororities… Eastern Stars…any women’s group would benefit from seeing and talking about “Many Women, One Voice.”  I’m looking forward to joining the Bay Area advocates who have already been using this in their work.

    Robert Newells is the founder of Healing Faith, the HIV prevention program of the Life Care Ministry at Imani Community Church (Oakland, CA). In addition to serving on the Board of Advisors to the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations of the Bay Area, Rob works intentionally with and through African American faith communities to reduce stigma and provide culturally relevant HIV information to all Oakland residents.



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