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In an effort to inform churchgoers, pastors and ministers about the disproportionate impact of HIV-AIDS on Black America, the NAACP will host social justice-based training for faith leaders in Washington, D.C.

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The event, hosted by the Washington branch, will take place at 10 a.m. (ET) Thursday at Emory United Methodist Church, according to a news release sent to NewsOne. It is part of the NAACP’s The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative Initiative, which is designed to train Black church leaders in the U.S. to educate parishioners about HIV prevention and screening. It is conducted by the NAACP National Health Department.

African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2010, the most recent CDC statistics, Blacks represented 44 percent of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years or older), despite representing only 12 percent of the U.S. population.

The rate of new HIV infection in African Americans is eight times that of Whites based on population size, the CDC says. And gay and bisexual men account for most new infections among African Americans; young gay and bisexual men aged 13 to 24 are the most affected of this group.

“If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world for new HIV infections,” the NAACP release states. “Eliminating HIV will take great effort with the help of partners from the faith community taking action and putting an end to the social injustices in the Black community by confronting the stigma and facilitating honest dialogue with the estimated 20 million African Americans who attend church weekly.

The NAACP, in conjunction with Gilead Sciences, announced a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action to expand The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative program to the 30 cities that account for nearly two-thirds of the nation’s HIV epidemic, the release states. Washington, D.C. is a part of the pilot program, with 75 percent of African Americans there living with HIV.

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