For three nights, community members will gather at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church and pray for an epidemic affecting millions throughout the world.
The 2017 National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8 through Friday, March 10, at the church, 537 McKoy St., Clinton. Events will begin at 7 p.m. each day. The purpose is to spread awareness about AIDS and to get faith-based organizations involved with education and prevention efforts.
The Sampson County HIV/AIDS Task Force is hosting the event. Guest speakers are schedule to make presentations and share testimonies. Thomas McLaughlin Jr., task force chairman, is looking forward too the turnout and receiving important information.
“Updates are coming out every day concerning this HIV issue,” McLaughlin said.
In addition to testimonies, several choirs are scheduled to perform.
The upcoming event is one of several meetings and events held throughout the year. McLaughlin and other members also participate in World AIDS Day, which is observed Dec. 1 each year. During the candlelight event, participants gather on the courthouse steps, discuss improvements and sing songs which signify hope.
National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is being held worldwide March 5 through March 12. As an initiative of The Balm in Gilead, the event has been observed for more than 20 years. It was held last year in Sampson County, with several local participants and visitors.
The Balm in Gilead, based out of Richmond, Va., produces educational and training programs designed to meet unique needs of African-American and African congregations, for health and disease prevention purposes.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with an HIV infection and almost 1 in 8 are unaware. During the 2016 event, it was noted by the North Carolina’s Care and Prevention in the United States (CAPUS) that more than 36,000 people are living with the disease in the state. From that amount, about 4,900 people are unaware.
Along with education about risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, a new initiative being promoted is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). The CDC recommends this an effective prevention strategy which uses Truvada, an HIV medication which is used to treat people who are HIV positive. According to studies, PeE helped reduce the risk of infection by 90 percent.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.