Mid-South church prepares for World AIDS Day - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mid-South church prepares for World AIDS Day

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - As people across the Mid-South prepare for World AIDS Day, some local churches got a head start Sunday morning.

After morning services at Freedom's Chapel Christian Church, congregation members and others in the community lined up to take mouth swab tests for HIV.

"We're attempting to raise awareness to take away the stigma that is generally associated with HIV/AIDS," said Dr. Roslyn Nichols, Pastor or Freedom's Chapel Christian Church.

Testing organizer Jennifer Warren said awareness needs to be raised.

"I have a lot of friends that are infected and affected, so it reaches my heart," said Warren.  "My people are suffering, so I wanted to be able to be a part of the solution."

Nichols said HIV cases in Memphis and Shelby County are at startling proportions.

"In some ways, Memphis and Shelby County is worse than some Third World countries," said Nichols.  "The fact that people are fearful or reluctant to be tested leaves us vulnerable and at risk."

Officials from Planned Parenthood were on hand Sunday to help with the testing.  Participants got their results back in a matter of minutes.

Church members said the test was simple.  All it takes is a swab to your mouth.  Then, put the swab in the solution.  In about 20 minutes, the test will tell you whether or not HIV antibodies are present in your system.

Organizers also offered counseling for those who struggle with the stigmas attached to the virus and encouraged members to reach out to people who may be living with HIV.

"When we care for one another, when we get tested, then we are standing with those who are part of the family of God, saying that we are all in this together," said Nichols.

For testing sites and a list of scheduled events for Wednesday's World AIDS Day, click here.

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