Written by Gregg Brekke
The HIV/AIDS Ministry Network of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has released a statement in support of the United Church of Christ HIV/AIDS Network (UCAN) recommendation that houses of worship and faith-based education institutions distribute condoms and provide comprehensive sexual education.
Joseph Thornton Grieb, volunteer director of the Network, said in the document, "We at the HIV/AIDS Ministry Network of Disciples Home Missions (AMNDHM) rejoice in [UCAN's] decision and affirm them by declaring our intent to recommend that condoms and other safer sex materials as well as free and anonymous HIV testing be provided in congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)."
Grieb acknowledges there are many in the church who strongly oppose the distribution of condoms or other safer sex materials but feels it is the church's duty to effectively minister to whole person.
"Until someone is ready to make a change – to be healthy and to respect their body as best they can – we have an obligation to help them stay healthy," said Grieb.
"We believe this is an essential step in stopping the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections," the statement said. "While providing safer sex materials is a start, we also recommend 'Affirming Persons - Saving Lives,' a curriculum developed by the UCC. [The curriculum] responds to the real concerns of real people facing the dangers of HIV and AIDS."
'Affirming Persons - Saving Lives' is designed for multi-cultural Christian education settings and can be adapted for use by health and human service institutions, schools, health department and community based organizations.
To support the actions of the UCAN, the HIV/AIDS Ministry Network of Disciples Home Missions shipped in excess of 5,000 items including male condoms, female condoms, dental dams, lubricants and safer sex kit packages to the United Church of Christ Church House in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to these items sent March 26, the HIV/AIDS Ministry Network has pledged an additional 10,000 items.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meets in Indianapolis for General Assembly in July where the HIV/AIDS Ministry Network of Disciples Home Missions will provide safer sex kits, prevention education and HIV testing at selected sites throughout Indianapolis via mobile HIV prevention and testing units.
More information about The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) HIV/AIDS Ministry Network is available at <discipleshomemissions.org/aidsministry>.