In order to spread HIV/AIDS awareness in the African-American community, Reverend Anthony Lee has instituted a practice of testing himself in front of his congregation at Community of Hope in Prince George’s County, MD. Nearly half of the 1 million people infected with HIV in the U.S. are black men, women and children and Lee is on a mission to combat the spread of the deadly virus by any means necessary.
In an interview with Black Voices, Lee recounts how he started testing himself at the pulpit:
“We realized from the first service that we needed to create an atmosphere where people feel comfortable being tested. Because if you are at church and the church is preaching abstinence, but then you go up and get tested and you’re not married, what you are saying is, “Oh, I’ve been doing something.” But what we talk about at Community of Hope is that getting tested is a sign of leadership.
We say that even if you have not had sex in a long time, we want you to get tested so you can help create an atmosphere in which someone who ‘got some’ last night can go get tested and not feel like people are going to be in their business.
So, that needed to happen from the pulpit on down. So, myself, all my ministerial leadership, all the leaders in the church, get tested. We had to shape a culture where there wasn’t a stigma around getting tested.”