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African-American Church Leaders Form Response To HIV/AIDS Epidemic

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley address the conclave of local black pastors trying to address the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Armando Trull
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley address the conclave of local black pastors trying to address the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Rev. Henry Davis has a stark warning for almost 100 of his fellow black pastors about the toll of HIV/AIDS.

"We are at war. There are casualties and bodies and collateral damage all around us. Lord, we are in crisis," he says.

Dr. Ulder Tillman, public health officer for Montgomery County, says limited resources means more attention must be given to high-risk groups such as gay and bisexual men and minorities.

"And in our area, blacks make up 79 percent of those living with AIDS," she says.

Prince George's County's top health official, Dr. Donald Shell, argues that black churches can help stem the deadly epidemic if they have an honest dialogue about sex.

"[It] doesn't take any money to fulfill that desire to sexually relieve yourself. What are we going to do to institute into someone's mind the need to take caution and to step back?" he says.

That's just one of the many questions about HIV/AIDS the assembled church leaders will try to answer from the pulpit Sunday morning.

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