World renowned U2 front man and AIDS activist Bono recently encouraged churches in Oakland, Calif., and the Bay Area to address the rampant aids problem in the surrounding locale.
The singer met last Friday with clergy, non-profit groups and people infected with HIV at Allen Temple Baptist Church in East Oakland, noting the disproportionate amount of black people affected with AIDS in the region.
"We're at the epicenter here in East Oakland of a new rise of the AIDS epidemic in the United States," Bono noted, according to the Kaiser Network, "But I'd also say we're also at the epicenter of the resistance to that epidemic."
The rock star was invited to the engagement by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a vocal activist on the aids epidemic, in an attempt to show him first-hand how bad the situation was among the black community.
According to the Alameda County Department of Public Health 2005 AIDS Epidemiology Report, 44 percent of the more than 6,800 AIDS cases in the county from 1980 to 2005 were among black residents.
Bono and Lee urgently asked that black churches take action regarding the problem.
[Friday's event was] another attempt to break the silence with regards to this global HIV pandemic, said the congresswoman, according to the San Mateo County Times.
As the biggest factors for the crisis, the Grammy-winning artist explained that HIV and AIDS are more common in the African-American communities due to their poverty, which leads to more irresponsible behavior such as increased sexual activity and drug use. This has lead to faster spread among impoverished society.
Crime also has increased the distribution. Mayor Ron Dellums explained how inmates that go into prison often walk out with AIDS and act like bullets in our community.
Bono went on to say that the faith-based communities are critical in overturning these problems.
"The church is very important," he said. "In Africa, the church was at the forefront of educating the public. It's hard for the church to talk about sexuality, but it's critical."
The black congregations attending supported the call.
Churches must break the silence that they've had on the HIV issue," explained J. Alfred Smith, pastor of Allen Temple Baptist Church, in the Contra Costa Times. "Mr. Bono, keep on keeping on. Congresswoman Lee, keep on being the conscience of the U.S. Congress. Mayor Dellums, keep on encouraging us to stand on higher ground."
The U2 lead singer has often used his star power in the past to get people aware of HIV in the world, especially in Africa. This past year, he ran a cooperative program with popular clothing chain GAP called the Product(RED) campaign, where a portion of each purchase would go towards supporting AIDS efforts.
Bono also recently received the Chairmans Award at the 38th National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards in Los Angeles on Friday. According to the organization, it is bestowed in recognition of special achievement and distinguished public service.