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DC Clergy and Faith Leaders Invited to Join the Fight Against HIV

Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Department of Health and Places of Worship Advisory Board hold second annual "One in the Spirit" conference November 13.

Washington, DC – The DC Department of Health (DOH) and the Places of Worship Advisory Board invite DC clergy and faith leaders to attend the second annual “One in the Spirit” Conference on Saturday, November 13th. The conference is designed to educate and inspire the faith community to join the fight against HIV.  The day-long conference will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. 

“The faith-based community is an essential partner in the District’s fight against HIV, and we are excited to use this event to help create more awareness around a topic that greatly impacts our city,” said DOH Director, Pierre Vigilance.

This year’s conference will feature Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., president and founder of the Healing of the Nations Foundation of New York and Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church, as the keynote speaker.  The Black Leadership Commission on AIDS of DC and Vicinity, chaired by Rev. Dr. Frank D. Tucker, pastor of First Baptist Church, is a sponsor of the conference.  Workshops will be offered on HIV and stigma, engaging youth, seniors, women’s and men’s ministries. The High Steppers of New York will provide entertainment.  Free HIV testing will be available and an exhibit area will be provided for community organizations and HIV service providers.

The District of Columbia has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the nation with more than 3% of all adults and adolescents diagnosed and living with HIV.  The epidemic impacts all population groups across race/ethnicity, age and gender.  In DC, 7 out of 8 wards have rates higher than 2%.  DOH estimates that the number of persons with HIV is likely higher as between 40% and 50% of people with HIV are unaware of their diagnosis.  The District has made routine HIV testing for adults and adolescents a priority to help diagnosis and connect people to care and treatment.  The Department has launched a major effort to broaden the city’s response to HIV by building capacity among faith, youth and small neighborhood-based organizations.

DOH assembled the Places of Worship Advisory Board of District faith leaders to support the DC faith based community in learning more about HIV, developing HIV ministries and encouraging new programs and services by the faith community.  The Board members convened the “One in the Spirit” conference for the first time in November 2009 attended by more than 200 people from the DC faith community. 

“Clergy, lay leaders, service missionaries, and other attendees will walk away with valuable resources for addressing HIV/AIDS and a spiritual renewal in knowing that the entire faith community stands together to heal and help win the fight against HIV,” said Dr. Nnemdi Kamanu Elias, MD, MPH, Interim Senior Deputy Director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration.

More information about the “One in the Spirit” Conference is available at www.doh.dc.gov/hiv.