HIV and the Church


According to the CDC, an estimated 1.1 million people are currently living with HIV in the United States alone, including 166,000 people who don’t yet know they are infected. Thirty percent of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who are living with undiagnosed HIV. For this population group, testing is the first step in adjusting behaviors to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the spread of HIV.

This summer our team partnered with a local Motel Ministry to begin to address the stigma of HIV/AIDS testing and reach populations who may be at risk and unlikely to get tested. Often those most affected by the disease are the same people with the least access to medical care. Through a partnership with the one Motel Ministry outreach in Anaheim, our team offered free HIV testing early Saturday morning as part of a church service being offered at a motel.

There is often fear and stigma surrounding the mere testing for HIV—regardless of a negative or positive result. To be tested can often feel like admitting: “I have done something wrong, or something wrong has been done to me.” Despite these fear factors, nearly 80% of those who attended the Motel Ministry accepted the invitation to be tested for HIV. Participants expressed relief at having caring ministry members alongside them to walk them through the testing process, and the sometimes stressful twenty-minute wait for results. As one mentioned, “This wait is an emotional rollercoaster!”

An 80% acceptance rate is nothing short of miraculous, especially for this being our initial HIV testing event at the motel. Through the efforts of the Motel Ministry, the HIV&AIDS Initiative, and most importantly the loving smiles of our amazing volunteers, attendees felt comfortable and safe enough to be tested.

Join us in combating the spread of HIV through raising awareness and encouraging testing. If you are interested in learning more about our Motel Ministry or want to get involved, email HIV@saddleback.com or call our team at 949-609-8555. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/testing/index.html



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