First Ladies Bring Health Back To The Church

Portrait of Four Smiling Black African American People Standing Outside a Church With Their Bibles

Many of us from the Generation X and Y era can remember a time when Black churches used to do everything for the community: clothing drives, visit the sick, feed the homeless, help with careers, give scholarships, etc. But over the past couple of decades, many have steered away from the church, citing that they are out of touch or that the church “doesn’t speak” to their needs. Well, the First Ladies from churches all across the country have decided to step up to that challenge and bring to life what you’ve always heard in church

With a focus on the diseases that affect African Americans most (heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, etc) and an intent raising awareness on HIV/AIDS, African-American pastors’ wives from various churches report making major inroads in encouraging people to get life-saving screenings.

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Just recently, the First Ladies Health Initiative succeeded in getting more than 1,250 community residents to get free screenings for HIV in a single day at churches in Chicago and Northwest Indiana at its Health Day this year alone—-a record for faith-based organizations.

Congregation of Women Dressed in White Clothing Standing Outside a Church

Since launching in Chicago in 2008, the nonprofit initiative’s Walgreens-sponsored First Ladies Health Days, held at their churches annually, have enabled more than 200,000 individuals to get an array of free health screenings, including for HIV/AIDS.

“What began as a pilot program combating HIV/AIDS has now expanded to also include a focus on other major illnesses that rob lives in our communities, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, hepatitis C, cancer and other illnesses,” Executive Director of the initiative, Tracy Alston, said.

The First Ladies Health Initiative has grown to comprise 152 pastors’ wives, also known as First Ladies, across denominations at chapters in Northwest Indiana, Los Angeles and Orange County, CA, Cincinnati, OH, in addition to Chicago.

Because of its influence, the First Ladies Health Initiative has been selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to participate in a national HIV campaign.

“I think the philanthropic partnership component helped encourage more people to get tested,” Alston said. “People felt compelled to do this, not only to be proactive about their health, but to also help others across the globe in South Africa.”

For every HIV test administered during the First Ladies Health Days in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. next year,…