(WMC-TV) – At First Baptist Church Broad Avenue you could hear a special message in the midst of the Sunday morning singing and praising.
"I want to bring awareness," said Rev. Keith Norman, "to ah the epidemic of HIV and AID's and what its doing to the African-American community."
Norman is the pastor of First Baptist Church Broad Avenue, and preached to his congregation about HIV/AID's.
Between services he also got tested and encouraged others to do the same.
"I'm going to pray that our congregation will create an environment in their homes, on their jobs, in our churches, in our community where people can come forth or where there is on-going testing and regular follow up," stated Norman.
First Baptist Broad is encouraging members to get tested as part of a nationwide Day of Unity against HIV/AID's.
"Everybody needs to know their status," stated church member Malcolm Jones, "it's important to know your status for yourself and other people."
The Day of Unity was organized by the NAACP. In videos and other material the organization is sounding the alarm on how the African-American community has been impacted the most by the disease.
Black men make up 11% of the US population but represent 42% of new male HIV infections.
According to the NAACP, black women comprise 12% of the US population yet they account for 65% of new female HIV infections.
"The goal now is to work with the large base of African American churches to help people defeat HIV," Normal said, "and we want to save our sisters, we want to save our brothers we want to save ourselves we want to save humanity by preventing the spread of this disease."
And church congregations have their work cut out for them.
During this service members were invited tie a ribbon on a tree if they knew someone who living with HIV or has died from it.
In a matter of minutes the tree was filled with ribbons.
If you would like to know more about the NAACP initiative on AID's, you can visit www.theblackchurchandhiv.org