To mark National AIDS Awareness Month, more than 2,000 AIDS education packets will be distributed today to parishioners of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church.
"It is important that the church is participating in this," said Blaine Teamer, an educator working for the AIDS Prevention Team, a nonprofit AIDS education program. "AIDS has affected the black community directly. And the church is an important meeting place for African-Americans."
The packets, some of which include condoms, are part of the church's ongoing AIDS education program focusing on the African-American community, said Charlotte Farrell, the health educator for the church's AIDS education and prevention program. Farrell said condoms were not included in all the packets to accommodate parishioners who advocate abstinence.
"We want people to know that this is not just a gay, white male disease," Farrell said. "This just doesn't happen to somebody in the newspaper. This can happen to you."
The program, which began in June, 1991, is funded by a $100,000 in grants from the state Department of Health Services Operation of AIDS. The church is also using the money to launch a program to bring AIDS information to South-Central teen-agers at schools and churches, as well as distribute educational packets in nightclubs.
Farrell's office works closely with the Los Angeles AIDS Team and Minority AIDS Project. The agencies will provide educators for the church-sponsored workshops.
Of all AIDS cases reported in Los Angeles County as of August, 19.1% of the patients were black and 33.5% were Latino. Farrell said African-Americans account for 29% of the AIDS cases reported nationally.
In addition to the community education programs, the church wants to develop an apartment, clinic and hospice at 2208 S. Western Ave. for people with the AIDS virus, said Peggy Hill, manager of the church's special projects. The proposed development, which is in the early planning stage, would include 30 units for people who are HIV-positive and medical services for residents with AIDS, Hill said.
Information: (213) 737-0897.