More than 150 leading African-American clergy, scholars, government officials, and health experts joined in October with the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS to respond to HIV/AIDS in the African-American community. “The black church is the mainstay institution in the black community,” Deborah Fraser-Howze, president of the NBLC, told National Public Radio. “One in every 50 black men and one in every 160 black women are estimated to be HIV positive.”
Dozens of ministers—including world-renowned pastors T.D. Jakes and Calvin Butts III—reviewed the National Medical Association’s report on HIV/AIDS and drafted new legislation to address the crisis. Working with the Congressional Black Caucus, church leaders plan to introduce the National HIV/AIDS Elimination Act in Congress in January, calling on President Bush to identify HIV/AIDS in the African-American community as a public health emergency and release emergency funds to fight the epidemic.