In 2010, more than 130 United Methodists went through HIV/AIDS testing during that spring’s Council of Bishops meeting to draw attention to a major global health issue and express solidarity with those suffering with the disease.
These days, such attention — from both the faith community and society at large — has diminished, says Indiana Area Bishop Julius C. Trimble, committee chair of the United Methodist Global AIDS Committee.
“It’s what I call apathetic neglect,” he explained. “It’s another form of discrimination.”
Trimble hopes that an upcoming denominational conference will “generate some tangible commitment to re-prioritize HIV and AIDS in our overall concern about global and national health.”
The goal of the “Breaking Barriers” HIV/AIDS ministry conference, from Oct. 25-27 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, is to save lives, reduce stigma and increase awareness. Scholarships, supported by the Indiana University Health Network, a co-sponsor, are available to help participants with registration and hotel costs.
The intent, Trimble said, is to both sound the alarm and extend an invitation for faith communities to join with those who have had some success in reducing HIV/AIDS deaths and increasing prevention. Sponsored by the Global AIDS Committee in partnership with the Council of Bishops and the denomination’s general agencies, other co-sponsors include seminaries, annual conferences and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Keynote speakers and worship leaders for Breaking Barriers include Ambassador Deborah Birx, U.S. Global AIDS coordinator; Hydeia Broadbent, an HIV/AIDS youth activist; Bishop Minerva Garza Carcaño, San Francisco Area; Bishop Tracy Smith Malone, East Ohio Area, and Trimble.