GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County ranks second in the state when it comes to new cases of HIV and AIDS. In 2008, more than 600 people in the state of Mississippi were infected with the disease.
One pastor is doing his part in hopes of decreasing those numbers. It's a subject that some may say is taboo in the church.
"Jesus does not want us to be sick," said Pastor Zachary Beasley.
HIV and AIDS is effecting the black community at record numbers. However, leaders at St. Mark United Methodist Church say they are not afraid to speak up about the disease.
"A lot of people don't want to know their status and knowing is what keeps you alive," said Trinette Crump.
Crump is a member of St. Mark. She is also the program director for South Mississippi AIDS Task force.
"People are not talking about it," said Crump. "People do not want to know, but you also have people out there who are sleeping with other people and not disclosing their HIV/AIDS status."
She says the numbers are alarming, especially in the black community. In December of 2008, there were 58 new HIV cases. 40 of those were African-American.
"Black women and black males are the faces of HIV and AIDS," said Crump.
That's why the members of this Gulfport church will continue to talk about the taboo topic in hopes of changing the numbers in Harrison County.