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AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church

Making the Wounded Whole

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Angelique Harris

AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church: Making the Wounded Whole is a revealing account of AIDS activism within Black churches in New York City. AIDS has taken a devastating toll on the Black community. Blacks make up approximately 13% of the total United States population, but almost half of all those infected with HIV in the U.S. are Black. Previous research has claimed that these high rates are due, in large part, to the lack of an immediate response by Black Church leaders and officials when AIDS first began to strike Blacks in the early 1980s. The Black Church can play a major role in providing AIDS education to its parishioners and community. However, feeling uncomfortable with addressing sexuality and homosexuality, many Black churches have simply avoided addressing AIDS believing that such conversations were inappropriate for church. As a result, The Balm in Gilead was formed in 1992 to encourage AIDS awareness among Black religious institutions. The Balm in Gilead is now the largest organization to work exclusively with the Black Church to promote AIDS education and awareness.
In AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church, Angelique Harris examines the formation of the Black Church AIDS movement and the organizational development of The Balm in Gilead. This research begins from the perspective that the Black Church is working to address AIDS, and details how this work is being done. Harris couches her findings within social movement theory, the sociology of health and illness, social marketing, and the social construction of knowledge. This text provides a unique lens through which to examine AIDS discourse within the Black community. AIDS, Sexuality, and the Black Church is essential reading for AIDS scholars, researchers, and community activists alike.

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