The NAACP and Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce have partnered to tackle the issue of HIV and AIDS in the black community. The civil rights organization says its research shows that one in sixteen black men and one in thirty-two black women will contract HIV.
It's statistics like those that brought the NAACP's Health Department Manager, Rev. Keron Sadler, to Payne over the weekend to visit a class called "What Effective Clergy Need to Know about HIV/AIDS, A Global Perspective from a Biological Point of View." Sadler feels that it's important to teach future clergy how to address the issue in the church.
"So, if we don't take a stance and begin to have this conversation as a black community and more specifically as a black faith community, than who will have this conversation?" she says.
The Rev. Dr. Oveta Fuller of Payne is a renowned microbiologist and virologist who developed the HIV/AIDS course. Dr. Fuller believes that clergy and the community have to find useful ways to battle the disease together.
"I know the Catholic church and some others have always focused on abstinence as opposed to condom use particularly for young adults," Dr. Fuller said. "So we do all three; we do abstinence, we do being faithful which lines up with Christian doctrine and most religious doctrine, and then we also add if you are not going to do A or B, then do C. The point is to keep the virus out of your body."
Dr. Leah Gaskin Fitchue, the president of Payne Theological Seminary, has made the HIV/AIDS awareness class mandatory for all students.