PROVIDENCE – A Brown University professor whose research has focused on the HIV epidemic in the black communities of Jackson, Mississippi and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has helped to make this World AIDS Day an especially educational event in Mississippi.
Amy Nunn, whose five-year study of the HIV epidemic in Jackson has involved black churches and clergy, leads a coalition called Mississippi Faith in Action, which asked black clergy in Jackson to preach a “public health gospel” from the pulpit on Sunday, Dec. 1, World Aids Day.
The sermons will stress the importance of getting tested and treated to combat the disproportionately high rate of infection and death from HIV/AIDS in the black community. According to Nunn, the HIV/Aids mortality rate among blacks in Mississippi is nearly nine times that of white.
“AIDS is a social justice crisis that requires community leadership,’’ Nunn said in a statement.
“We’re working with churches in Jackson and across Mississippi to build a sustainable campaign to end the stigma and the silence that prevent people from getting tested and into care.”
Nunn’s five-year study of the black communities in Jackson and Philadelphia foundthat clergy in those cities have been willing to talk about the epidemic in terms of community healing and social justice, but to not necessarily advocate testing and treatment. Sunday’s event was designed to change that.
Nunn, who also has an NIH grant to train young black scholars in HIV research and community mobilization, led a similar program in Philadelphia.
“What we’re doing in Jackson is something that could and should happen in cities all over the country,” she said.