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church

From the Chicago-Tribune:

On a recent Sunday morning, the Rev. Stephen Thurston stood on the pulpit before a packed New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago while a health care worker swabbed his upper and lower gums. After his sermon, she announced the results: Thurston had tested negative for HIV.

It was an unusual scene in an African-American church, where for decades many black ministers and parishioners have stood silent as HIV and AIDS festered in the community. Consumed by fear, a lack of information and conflicting messages about religion, sex and homosexuality, some pastors condemned the disease in sermons as HIV/AIDS grew to epidemic proportions just outside their church doors.

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But in recent years, with more access to information about the disease, increasing numbers of black churches are slowly becoming outspoken advocates for testing, increased government funding and education. For some, it has meant changing their views about religion and opening their doors to gays and lesbians, whom they once shunned.

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