To inform the community about the importance of getting tested for HIV/AIDS, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Mt. Airy will be hosting a special “World Aids Day Healing Service” on Sunday.
Worlds Aids Day was created in 1988 to spread awareness and encourage progress in the prevention, treatment and care of the auto-immune disease around the world. It is observed Dec. 1 every year.
“It’s important for the well being of the world,” said Andrena Ingram, St. Michael’s pastor, about getting tested.
HIV/AIDS awareness is something that Ingram holds near and dear to her heart. For the past 23 years, she’s been HIV-positive.
Ingram learned about her status shortly after the death of her late husband, who died from the incurable disease in 1993. Instead of dying from symptoms, Ingram believes he died from shame of his diagnosis.
Ingram said her husband’s experience taught her to embrace the disease and become an advocate for others.
“I have just been a voice against his silence and those who live with the virus, fear and stigma,” she said. “I decided early on to put a face to the disease and humanize it.”
During Sunday’s service, the “HIV Minister” will discuss similarities between the advent season, which is the waiting period for the birth of Jesus Christ, and the decades those living with HIV/AIDS have been waiting for a cure and affordable access to necessary medications.
“We live in great expectation that one day sooner than later all will be well,” read Ingram from her sermon. “We wait for the arrival of the one that will help us usher in a new kinship and kingdom where all lives and loves with equality without fear, shame, guilt, judgment, stigma, discrimination of any kind in peace”
Attendees will get the chance to honor and remember their loved ones who lost their lives to the disease while Ingram performs a dance routine.
On Dec. 14, the church will also host a free and confidential HIV testing program from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the Mazzoni Center in Center City.