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UMC Clinic Gets New Outlook on HIV/AIDS

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When Schaunta James-Boyd of Saint Mark United Methodist Church, Wichita, Kan., saw the impact of HIV/AIDS in her community, she could no longer hide from the truth and do nothing. A staggering 80 percent of the counties in the state of Kansas have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

“The impact of HIV/AIDS is devastating our community especially within African Americans,” says Boyd, who is also executive director of the E.C. Tyree Health Clinic which is supported by The Kansas West Annual Conference. HIV/AIDS is the number one killer for both African American men and women between the ages of 25 and 44. As the numbers grew, so did Boyd’s determination to act. She began an AIDS ministry within the Tyree clinic and gathered a team of concerned and caring individuals who took action.

It has been 26 years since HIV/AIDS came on the scene, and Boyd surprisingly found that there was still resistance in discussing the topic. “Everyone was scared to talk about the issue, let alone be comfortable with getting tested,” said Boyd. So the team set out on a mission to brainstorm solutions to ease the community’s fear and promote awareness.

World AIDS Day Event

Funded in part by General Board of Global Ministries’ Health and Welfare unit, the Tyree clinic held their first prayer vigil on World AIDS Day 2005 and ended the evening with a keynote presentation from a person living with HIV/AIDS. The silence was broken from that day forward. Boyd partnered with the local school of medicine, offered free testing and held a dynamic panel discussion about the disease within the African-American church community. Several clergy from all denominations and local community leaders were invited to discuss how to address and meet the growing needs of individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day was a success for the Tyree clinic. A total of 150 people participated in the activities and 47 people were tested on the spot at no cost to them. Results of the tests came within 20 minutes.

A New Campaign

Last year the Tyree clinic started a "Know Your Status" campaign, where free HIV/AIDS testing was provided on the second Sunday of each month. Through ongoing sponsored activities and ministry involvement, the congregation became more at ease about the subject of HIV/AIDS. The church continues to support the clinics’ efforts to provide education to the community.

“It has completely changed the congregation’s overall view of the disease— It has even encouraged the most doubtful to get tested,” said Boyd. The Tyree clinic continues to support this cause by planning events around World AIDS Day and throughout the year as well, including national observances. Funds are being raised to support HIV programs and this year the clinic is planning a viewing of an HIV/AIDS movie that will be followed by an interactive discussion on testing.

How You Can Help

Do your part. Get involved on World AIDS Day and continue to support local UMC churches and its programs to help spread the word on prevention of HIV/AIDS. The information is at your reach—visit the World AIDS Day page now and download the many resources UMCOR is offering your church or community. Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.