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Faith and AIDS Conference Set for World AIDS DAY

Christ Missionary Baptist Church will host a Faith and AIDS Conference on World AIDS Day – Dec. 1 – in partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis Ryan White Program and Mid-South AIDS Fund.

The conference will include a community breakfast, workshops and the screening of the documentary "The Gospel of Healing." Registration begins at 8 a.m. The goal is for local communities of faith to bring attention and awareness to the AIDS epidemic and to encourage a discussion on AIDS education, treatment and care. The church is located at 480-494 S. Parkway E.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, more than 1 in 3 of all the newly diagnosed HIV cases in the state occurred in Shelby County, even though only 15 percent of Tennessee's population lives here. Also, over half of the newly diagnosed HIV infections in Shelby County occurred in people between the ages of 15 and 34. Nine out of every 10 newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Shelby County were in the African American population in 2010.

"HIV/AIDS is devastating our community in Memphis," said the Rev. Dr. Gina M. Stewart, the host pastor. "The faith community in Memphis has the influence and duty to be responsible for educating our people about the disease. It is our hope that this conference will empower faith leaders and people of faith to use their influence to create safe spaces for persons infected and/or affected by HIV/AIDS and to provide awareness, education and advocacy.

The day will begin with a community breakfast Saturday morning. The conference will feature national faith leaders who are engaged in HIV outreach and who are featured in the documentary "The Gospel of Healing." The Rev. Edwin Sanders, senior pastor of Metropolitan Interdenominational Church in Nashville, and the Rev. Tony Lee, the senior pastor of Community of Hope AME Church in Hillcrest Heights, Md., and Paul Grant, the producer of the documentary, will share their stories and experiences.

The conference is free and refreshments will be served. To register, go to faithandaids. eventbrite.com, or call Christ Missionary Baptist Church at 901-948-9786.

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