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GMHC and NYC Black Churches Take a Stand Against HIV

New Campaign to Feature the First Ladies of Churches

Media Contact:
Krishna Stone | 212.367.1016

New York, NY—On Sunday, October 17, GMHC will partner with First Baptist Church of Crown Heights in Brooklyn to launch a new HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, First Ladies Care, featuring the First Ladies of churches.  Typically, a First Lady is the wife of a senior pastor (or the head of a church).  The First Ladies may also oversee ministries, host fundraisers, teach classes, and have other duties. Their role and leadership is highly respected within a church community.

First Ladies Care targets black churches and features images of the wives and/or female leadership on fans, with messages that urge women and men in the congregation to support each other to talk more  about HIV prevention, testing and safer sex. First Baptist Church is the first in the campaign and First Lady, Mrs. Ellen Norman, is the first spokesmodel.

"I have known and respected Mrs. Ellen Norman all my life," said Marjorie Hill, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of GMHC.  "We are honored to begin this initiative at First Baptist Church."

This campaign will raise the visibility of First Baptist Church's existing HIV/AIDS ministry which can then lead to increased community discussions, educational workshops and testing initiatives. The HIV/AIDS ministry is run by another women leader in the church, Gwen Carter, who has extensive experience working with people living with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS.   Building on this initial partnership, GMHC will expand the campaign by partnering with more black churches, thus expanding HIV/AIDS-related programming for women, men and their families throughout New York City.

First Ladies Care is being launched at a time when new HIV infections continue to rise at alarming rates in black communities.  On Thursday, October 14, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report indicating that 1 out of 22 black people in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.  The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has reported that while representing only 49% of the entire female population, 92%  of women living with HIV are black or Hispanic, and 94% of teenage females living with HIV are black and Latina.  Moreover, the prevalence of black and Hispanic women diagnosed with HIV and residing in Brooklyn is approximately 30.4%, the Bronx - 30.8% and Manhattan - 17%. "Churches, especially in the black community, have historically been a cornerstone of community activism, social justice and education," added Hill.  "It is essential that we continue our partnerships with churches, and other faith communities, to reduce new HIV infections and increase care for people living with HIV/AIDS."

Launch Information

On Sunday, October 17, interviews and photo opportunities will be available at 12:30 pm with the First Lady, Mrs. Ellen Norman, Gwen Carter, head of the church's HIV/AIDS ministry, and Marjorie Hill, GMHC's CEO, at First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, 450 Eastern Parkway (between Bedford and Rogers Avenue), Brooklyn.

Subway trains: 2,3,4,5 to Franklin Avenue.


GMHC is a not-for-profit, volunteer-supported and community-based organization committed to national leadership in the fight against AIDS.  We provide prevention and care services to men, women and families that are living with, or affected by, HIV/AIDS in New York City.  We advocate for scientific, evidence-based public health solutions for hundreds of thousands worldwide.