News Release

6/9/00

Urban AIDS Ministry Task Force Prepares for Black Church Lights the Way HIV Prevention Campaign

The Urban AIDS Ministry Task Force (UAM), a coalition of African-American spiritual leaders, churches and faith based organizations working to prevent HIV/AIDS among African-Americans in Houston, announced plans to host the Black Church Lights the Way: The Black Church HIV Testing Campaign in Houston. The event will be held on June 16, 2000, at the Bread of Life, Inc., located at 2019 Crawford at Gray.

The UAM will partner with the Balm in Gilead, a New York based technical assistance organization that works to mobilize African-American churches in the battle against HIV/AIDS. The campaign, which features radio, print and television advertisements, works to involve African-American church congregations in HIV prevention. In addition to a noon press conference to launch the campaign, the June 16th event will feature a ministerís conference, a luncheon reception and free HIV testing.

To demonstrate the need for early HIV detection and the simplicity of the test, Rudy Rasmus, Pastor of St. Johnís United Methodist Church, will be tested at the event.

In Houston/Harris County, 61 percent of 1999 HIV reports were in African Americans. According to Rev. Stephane Cobbert, Associate Pastor at Brookhollow Baptist Church, "Black churches have the power and responsibility to change the course of the AIDS epidemic. Our goal is to provide prayer, leadership, compassion and information to help the families in our congregations and community who are facing HIV/AIDS."

The Urban AIDS Ministry Task Force (UAM) is a community involvement group facilitated by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. For more information about the Black Church Lights the Way, contact Anthony Hurst at 713-794-2908.