Church Performs Collective AIDs Test

Nov 30, 2002 09:07 PM EST

BUFFALO, NY -- Old taboos break down as a local Baptist church undergoes a collective AIDs test-the first of its kind in history. The pastor of True Bethel Baptist Church was first tested in front of the congregation during morning service. Soon after, around 100 members had the test at a nearby school.

"We see this as the tearing down of the traditional church barriers that excludes dialogue about sex, HIV and AIDS," said Ken Smith, a program coordinator at GROUP Ministries, which organized the event.

Pridgen, True Bethel's Pastor, warned teens in his church about the dangers of promiscuity. "Once you catch [AIDS], you don't just get rid of it," he said. "Do not let yourselves die for a few minutes of pleasure."

During the "Breakthrough Sunday" event, volunteers handed out pamphlets with sex information and promoting abstinence. Eight other churches plan similar HIV testing days.

Michael Threat, one of the members tested at the event, said, "What I did 20 years ago could creep up to haunt me. AIDS is a long-term killer and it's easy to go home and pass on a death sentence to your loved ones without knowing it."

By Pauline J.
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