National Faith HIV & AIDS Awareness Day
National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
On August 27, 2017, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc. (NBLCA) and partners will spearhead the first Faith HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.
The goal is to rally all US communities representative of the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Baha’i faiths to take a stand against stigma in their faith communities and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. Washington, DC will feature the main event and seeks to rally at Freedom Plaza. Satellite events will be held in 15 U.S cities concurrently following citywide “prayer walks.” Faith leaders and activists around the US will speak out against stigma, educate the audience on how to get involved and advise on ways to create safe spaces in faith communities. After the respective rallies there will be networking, free HIV Testing and more. The ultimate goal of this event is to have Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day recognized on the www.AIDS.gov calendar as an official national HIV/AIDS awareness day, establishing the faith community as an advocate for people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and an opponent of stigma and discrimination.
In 2012 Chicago area community and faith-based organizations committed to ending HIV/AIDS coalesced to organize the first annual HIV/AIDS Prayer Walks on National HIV Testing Day. Over several months, agencies collaborated across the Chicagoland area to plan for a united community-based prayer walk and HIV testing event. The prayer walk was a means to establish contact with the community and local churches who were invited to the table to be involved in the selection of locations and outreach activities for HIV awareness in the city of Chicago. Prayer walks were launched from as many as 13 different sites across Chicago in neighborhoods with the highest incidence of HIV infection. Participants marched, stopping periodically to pray over street corners, community landmarks, and even people. After the walks, free HIV testing and health screenings were offered at the host sites, including Hepatitis C and blood pressure readings. In addition, condoms were distributed, and educational materials and handouts accompanied free food, balloons, music and raffles. Advertisement included flyers, signage, radio announcements, and inclusion in city listings and county activities. The goal is to replicate this model on National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in cities all over the country.
In addition to participating in the prayer walk in Washington, DC, NBLCA will hold events in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York State.
15 Faith Ambassadors will be identified in 15 major cities that have high incidence and prevalence rates of HIV/AIDS. The targeted cities are New York City, Washington DC/ Baltimore, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Baton Rouge, Memphis, Charlotte, Columbia, Jackson, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago. Advised by a steering committee comprised of leaders from across the nation, the Ambassadors will engage religious leaders of their cities, and rally the local community to make the day a success. Duties of Ambassadors will include but are not limited to:
- working with faith communities to plan, market, and execute a citywide multi-faith prayer walk;
- identifying a central location to launch prayer walks and host post-walk events in the respective cities;
- securing necessary permits to host a march (street closures, noise ordinances, food permits, etc.);
- providing free and confidential HIV testing;
- tracking and reporting participation statistics (number of participants, unique faith communities represented [Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Baha’i], number of people tested for HIV with results);
- Liaising with local media outlets as the designated prayer walk spokesperson with talking points provided by the NFHAAD planning committee.
Pending adequate funding, financial support will be available to each Ambassador, but Ambassadors are encouraged to fundraise within their respective cities. Also pending funding, Ambassadors will be hosted in Washington DC for a prayer walk training retreat on May 30 – June 1, 2017.
A webinar will be hosted for ambassadors who are not able to attend the retreat.