From Martin Luther King Jr. and the fight for civil rights in the 1960s to Rev. Al Sharpton and the fight against racial profiling and police brutality today, members of the clergy have been key leaders in some of the black community's most important battles. Yet there is one issue plaguing the community on which black pastors, as a whole, have not been perceived as leaders: the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Despite the fact that African Americans now lead the nation in new cases of the HIV virus, and the fact that AIDS is the third leading cause of death among black men and women ages 35 to 44, the issue has not been embraced as a priority social justice issue by many predominantly black churches. While black pastors, for instance, played key roles as visible and vocal champions of voting and voter access this election cycle, fewer have used their weight similarly to mobilize their congregations around the issue of HIV awareness, prevention and testing.