Curriculum Addresses Barriers in Coping With AIDS/HIV

Post a Comment » Written on July 12th, 2007     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (July 12, 2007) –Hispanic pastors in the Evangelical Covenant Church are using a targeted curriculum and film to break down longstanding barriers that have kept Latino communities from assisting people with AIDS/HIV as well as stopping the spread of the disease.

The material is produced by Esperanza USA, a national Christian Hispanic organization with which the Covenant has been involved. As part of its “You are the answer” campaign, the organization produced a short film in Spanish with English subtitles entitled Don’t Give Up (No Te Rindas). The film is a drama about how a Christian family is affected by the disease and how their church reacts to them. A workbook is used in conjunction with the film.

The organization also produced a music video and accompanying compact disc called “There is a Way” (Hay una Respuesta). Several major Hispanic music artists contributed their talents to the song, including Marcos Witt, José Luís Rodríguez, Yuri, Julissa, Ricardo Montaner and Maria del Sol.

“There really hasn’t been anything for Hispanics and Hispanic pastors,” says Willie Franco, pastor of Canto Nuevo Covenant Church in Walnut Creek, California. “Pastors and the church don’t know how to deal with this. If someone comes into their church with AIDS, the first thing they think is it’s a sin, but we need to show compassion.”

The lack of information and cultural issues have contributed to the rapid spread of the disease among Latinos in the United States and elsewhere, says Walter Contreras, director of Mission Mobilization and Connection in the Department of World Mission of the Evangelical Covenant Church. “The problem with AIDS in Latin American communities is where Africa was 10 years ago,” he says.

According to Esperanza:
•    1.9 million people are living with HIV, and 177,000 new HIV cases were reported in Latin America and the Caribbean
•    86,000 people died from AIDS in 2005 in Latin America and the Caribbean
•    Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean is the second most affected region in the world
•    From 1999-2002, the number of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses increased 26 percent among Hispanics in the United States
•    Of the AIDS cases reported in 2004 in the United States, 21 percent were among Hispanic adults and adolescents
•    Hispanic children accounted for 26 percent of all pediatric AIDS cases reported through 2001 in the United States
•    The AIDS rate among Hispanic women is eight times higher than for white women and represents 20 percent of AIDS cases among women in the United States

Major cultural issues have kept Hispanic churches from reaching out to people with AIDS, including shame, Contreras says. “If a person dies of AIDS, they will say that the person died of something else. They won’t say someone died of AIDS.”

According to Contreras, other factors include the reluctance to discuss sexual issues on an intimate level, a belief that AIDS is a punishment of God, and clergy not wanting to be connected in any way with gay, lesbian, and transgender groups, and undocumented immigrants afraid to seek assistance.

The material is helping Latinos to reach out to people with AIDS/HIV, say those who have used it. “We have had a good response,” says Gabriel Quiroga, who is planting the Camino de Vida Covenant Church in Tucson, Arizona.

Quiroga is using the Spanish curriculum with students at the University of Arizona. Many of the students are from Central America and the Caribbean and they will take the information back to their countries, Quiroga adds.

Franco has used the Spanish curriculum and shown the movie to community groups as well as in his church. “People want to learn,” he says.

Meeting with the groups also is a means of evangelism, Franco says. “We show the film and at the end, we share the gospel.”

For more information, see Esperanza.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Report This Post

Leave a Reply

Report This Blog