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FOR RELEASE: September 5, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

Clergy Training for HIV/STD Prevention Among African Americans Offered

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) HIV/STD Service is providing a free, four-week training to clergy in the Oklahoma City area focusing on the African American community. The training will consist of four sessions covering various topics such as mental health and substance abuse issues, the effects of HIV/AIDS in African Americans, as well as resources and referral services available. Dialogue with an HIV-positive client will allow clergy first-hand opportunities to ask questions about a patient's personal experience with the disease.

Training will be held every Monday night in September beginning at 5 p.m. Sept. 9 and ending on Sept. 30. The training will be held at Casey Family Services, 815 N.W. 58th Street in Oklahoma City.

"The purpose of the training is to provide clergy with knowledge and skills to educate their congregations regarding the effects and devastation of HIV and AIDS. This is the second training of this magnitude in Oklahoma and so far, six clergy successfully completed the training last year," said Michelle Green-Gilbert, OSDH HIV/STD Service, Information and Training Division director and co-coordinator for the program.

Last year, the clergy formed a partnership with OSDH HIV/STD Service to disseminate HIV and AIDS prevention information to the African American community. As a result of the partnership, delegates for the African American Faith Community for AIDS Prevention (AAFCAP) group participated in the Balm In Gilead, National Church Training Institute in Tarrytown, New York.

The AAFCAP group sponsors numerous events to promote HIV/AIDS education, counseling, and testing services in their local communities, including the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Black Church Week of Prayer, World AIDS Day, and Black Church Lights the Way Campaign. Rev. George E. Young, pastor of the Holy Temple Baptist Church, serves as chairman of the AAFCAP.

There are currently 14 local ministers enrolled for this year's training and additional slots are still available. For more information or to enroll, call Saundra Lucas at 580-585-6670 or Michelle Green-Gilbert 405-271-4636.

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