Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Press Release from DHAM of Indiana

Disciples hiv-aids ministry, INC. OF INDIANA

P.O. Box 3053

Terre Haute, IN


812.232.1381 X 343

Press Release

Contact: Jody Grieb

Phone: 812.243.6402


November 18, 2009


terre haute, in, november 18, 2009: Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry, Inc. (DHAM) of Indiana, announced today that it has received a contract in the amount of thirty thousand dollars with the Indiana State Department of Health to provide HIV prevention education, interventional services and testing in the Wabash Valley of western central Indiana. Additionally, DHAM will receive grants totaling forty thousand dollars from private business organizations.

This partnership is a culmination of an eighteen month joint project between The AIDS Ministry Network of Disciples Home Missions and members of Central Christian Church, (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, Indiana. When members of Central Christian Church noticed a gap in HIV/STD prevention education, they reached out to Wabash Valley PATH, a local not-for-profit and Disciples Home Missions. The AIDS Ministry Network worked with the group providing guidance and technical assistance. “The AIDS Ministry Network helped us realize our mission. We received help writing our mission statement and by-laws, incorporating, receiving our not-for-profit designation from the IRS, and assistance with writing our first state proposal” stated Mary Seybold, a Prevention Specialist and certified HIV Counselor and Tester.

“The state contract and private funding are examples of how faith based organizations, government entities, and private business can find synergy in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States” Jody Grieb, Volunteer Director of the AIDS Ministry Network told participants at an HIV Prevention Training recently at the offices of the Christian Church in Indiana.

Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry will provide education in the form of seminars and workgroups in Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo Counties in Indiana surrounding the city of Terre Haute. Staff will also conduct the ‘Popular Opinion Leader’ intervention. ‘Popular Opinion Leader’ or ‘POL’ is a community-level HIV prevention intervention designed to identify, enlist, and train peer opinion leaders to encourage safer sexual norms and behaviors within their social networks of friends and acquaintances through risk reduction conversations.

The private grants from Starbucks, Walgreens, and other donors will enable DHAM to provide testing through the six county area using their mobile HIV testing unit, a cargo van, converted for the specific use of HIV prevention and testing. DHAM is staffed by a full time program manager, and utilizes volunteers and AmeriCorps members from Indiana State University Sycamore Corps.

The AIDS Ministry Network of Disciples Home Missions is available to assist congregations with an existing HIV-AIDS Ministry realize their potential or to help grassroots organizations like Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry of Indiana with capacity building programs.

For more information contact Jody Grieb, Volunteer Director of the AIDS Ministry Network at or Wilma Shuffit at Disciples Home Missions 888.346.2631.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Funding Announcement for 2010

I'm very excited to announce that Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry will be fully funded for 2010!

The Indiana State Department of Health has offered Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry a $30,000 contract to provide HIV prevention services and testing in the Wabash Valley of western central Indiana. In addition to the state contract I have received additional grants notifications totaling $35,000 for a total of $65,000!

I'm very excited about the state contract. This is the first time in many years any organization in our area has been funded. While the state contract is specific for use in the Wabash Valley of Indiana, the additional grant funds are unrestricted geographically.

The first major event we will conduct will be an HIV Awareness Campaign and HIV testing drive at Barton College in Wilson, N.C. on February 1st and 2nd! I promised to get a press release out soon with all the details!



Monday, October 5, 2009

More on the Chalice

I just became aware that my friend Verity wrote a great piece about the chalice, read about it on Disciples World Online !

Safe Place

Have you ever needed a safe place? Sure you have, we all have.

Last week I was in Indianapolis at the Indiana State Department of Health and we were debating the Universal Health Care Plan currently before Congress.

I've read the current piece of legislation in its entirety and I can tell you that it's not perfect, but it's a good start. The point I made to the people participating in my conversation was that since June 1 of this year, 5 clients in my area have died while on the waiting list for insurance. These people all previously had insurance at work but were laid off due to the current economic issues. After being laid off, they were unable to pay the costs to keep their insurance. Three of these people were back at work but, due to their pre-existing condition, they are now uninsurable.

I couldn't take it any more, so I walked out and down the road to Disciples Center. I went upstairs to see my friend Wilma and she was gracious to leave me alone in her cubicle for a few moments to cry out my anguish. When she returned, she asked me if I had seen the new chapel downstairs, I told her I had not but promised to visit it on the way out and I did.

What a wonderful place of peace. I sat in prayer and meditation for a few moments and began to look around. I was amazed to discover a communion set that was used at Cane Ridge! Having a few minutes alone in this chapel helped me to recover and re-affirm my commitment to finishing the business at hand.

If you find yourself in Indianapolis, and need a safe safe place to cry, I recommend that you stop by the chapel and Disciples Center, and if you see Wilma, tell her thanks!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry at the 2009 Indiana AIDS Fund Walk and Ride

Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry needs your help! The AIDS Walk & Ride is held each year to symbolize the impact HIV/AIDS has on all Hoosiers. This year's 5K Walk and 10K Ride will be held downtown Indianapolis adjacent to the Indiana War Memorial on the beautiful grounds of University Park (Vermont and Meridian Streets)on SATURDAY, October 10th, 2009. Please join us in supporting this important cause. In addition to the Walk and Ride, the Indiana AIDS Fund will host a day of entertainment for all ages and a health fair.

The proceeds from this event benefit the Gregory R. Powers Direct Emergency Financial Assistance (DEFA) Fund which provides financial assistance for food, clothing, medications, utilities and more. Funding for these types of emergency services cannot be provided by traditional government funding. The AIDS Walk is the only source for funding for the DEFA program.

Follow this link to visit the web page Disciples HIV-AIDS Ministry and Wabash Valley PATH are sharing and help us in our efforts to support the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis.

If you live in Indiana and are a member of a Disciples congregation, we invite you to join us, or start your own team. If you don't live in Indiana, call someone you know who does!



Religious Leaders Absent in the Anti-AIDS Fight

Religious Leaders Absent in the Anti-AIDS Fight

August 21, 2009

Though they exert great influence in the communities in which they serve, religious leaders are not doing enough to fight HIV/AIDS, said experts at the recent ninth International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, held in Bali, Indonesia.

"Many religious groups and leaders are unwilling to address HIV/AIDS and make it a priority. Their commitment level is quite low, particularly when compared to the size of their budget and the amount of work they do," said Donald Messer of the US-based Center of Church and Global AIDS.

"We've been talking about HIV/AIDS and the religious groups' response for three decades now. We're still talking too much even now," said Fiji's Dominica Abo. The "most powerful contribution" religious leaders can make is addressing stigma, discrimination, and biases that put groups like women at high risk for the disease.

The epidemic's impact on women and children needs to be addressed from a faith-based perspective, said the Rev. Youngsook Charlene Kang of the United Methodist Church in the United States, noting that women account for nearly half of all infections worldwide. "We need to call on religious leaders to educate and create new pathways within our churches for parishioners to learn the role that faith communities can play."

Messer noted that many conservative Muslim and Christian groups continue to preach against contraceptives, including condoms, believing they promote promiscuity. "[Yet] when used directly and consistently, condoms are humanity's best protection and weapon against HIV/AIDS," he said. "Some religious leaders are more eager to preserve the purity or correctness of theological perspectives than their task to save human lives."

From The Body Pro :

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Disciples pioneer HIV and AIDS testing in Indiana

By Nathan Day Wilson, DisciplesWorld contributing writer

INDIANAPOLIS (8/1/09) — There’s a new first to add to the growing list of Disciple firsts — the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry is the first faith-based effort fully certified by the Indiana Department of Health. If commitment and consistency are criteria, there is little doubt the honor is well deserved.

In terms of commitment, the ministry is completely organized and administered by well-trained, impassioned volunteers such as Jody Grieb, a member of Central Christian Church in Terre Haute.

In terms of consistency, every day the ministry offers testing in Terre Haute. On Saturdays the ministry tests at Roberts Avenue United Methodist Church on the corner of Massachusetts and Roberts Avenue in Indianapolis. Every third Thursday of the month, testing takes place at the Walgreens at the corner of 16th and Meridian Streets.

As of this writing, 191 people were tested during the 2009 General Assembly. The oldest was 74 and the youngest 11. The 11-year-old, suggested Grieb, convinced as many as 40 more people to be tested.

One who was tested was Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president.

“There are assumptions made about who should be tested and who doesn’t need it,” said Watkins. “But if we are serious about stopping this pandemic, we all have to take part.”

Watkins' statement is consistent with recent reports that the fastest growing infection rate in Indiana is among heterosexual women over the age of forty.

“Plus, maybe if I’m tested, they will start allowing me to give blood again,” she said in reference to the limitation placed on her by the Indiana Blood Center since she lived in Africa.

In addition to testing, the ministry offers crisis counseling and is able to make referrals for those who receive confirmatory tests.

Each test costs $10.28. The ministry receives no official financial support from the denomination. Volunteer administration significantly reduces operating expenses. Subsidies from Starbucks and Walgreens for material costs resulted in a combined financial gift of over $17,000 since October 2008. Finally, state-certification will make the ministry eligible for state funding of testing supplies.

To learn more about the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry, contact Jody Grieb at Central Christian in Terre Haute.

As printed in Disciples World online:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting Ready for Assembly

I'm very excited about our upcoming General Assembly. The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry will be in Indianapolis providing prevention education and free anonymous HIV testing via two mobile testing units.

Our primary platform, a 30 foot RV will remain at the convention center to provide on-site testing, prevention education, and harm reduction supplies while our mobile van will perform testing with our partners at Walgreens and Starbucks and at other locations throughout Indianapolis. Starbucks has graciously covered the cost of our testing supplies and Walgreens has provided us with harm reduction materials and is covering operating expenses.

I'm also excited to announce that we will bring two panels from the AIDS memorial quilt to Assembly to display. In addition, we will gather names of friends and family members to assemble our own quilt panel. After it has been created, we will bring this 'Disciples AIDS Quilt' to various venues in the future.

Our AIDS Healing Service will be Sunday morning August 2nd in room 103 of the Indianapolis Convention Center. This service will begin at 8:00 am, giving you plenty of time to worship and find healing with us, then get to late morning services at one of the local congregations should you wish.

As you are well aware these are tough economic times. We have been very lucky to establish relationships with our corporate sponsors at Starbucks and Walgreens. Please continue to pray for our ministry and these relationships.

I look forward to seeing you at Assembly.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get Tested

Testing at Walgreens

We had a wonderful day yesterday at the Walgreens at 16th and Meridian in Indianapolis. I took my friend Jen from Terre Haute and Jamie from Indianapolis joined us. We were onsite from 1 until 9 pm and test 17 people! What a wonderful partnership we have created here. Starbucks provided a grant for testing supplies, Walgreens provides the location and we provide the testers and the testing vehicle.

In addition to testing we handed out pamphlets about preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections to just over 60 people.

I'm really looking forward to General Assembly. The supplies have been ordered and most have arrived. I'm making my lists and ensuring that everything is ready. We are currently scheduled to conduct testing every day except Sunday the 2nd of August.

I look forward to seeing many of you there.



Monday, June 22, 2009

First, I would like to thank all of the congregations who answered the call to provide condoms and literature pertaining to HIV/STI prevention in their congregations. I personally packed 29 packages to ship from Terre Haute and I know others went and purchased supplies of their own.

So I haven't posted for a while, but I have had a lot going on here in Indiana.

First of all I am happy to announce that we have started a relationship with Starbucks to provide testing at several of their locations in Indiana. I would also like to thank Starbucks for the financial support they have given us.

I recently attended a Comprehensive Risk Counseling Service (CRCS) class in Indianapolis. Comprehensive Risk Counseling is intensive, individualized client-centered counseling for adopting and maintaining HIV risk-reduction behaviors. CRCS is designed for HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals who are at high risk for acquiring or transmitting HIV and STIs and struggle with issues such as substance use and abuse, physical and mental health, and social and cultural factors that affect HIV risk. This three day class focused on competency for providing client centered behavioral risk change and will be instrumental in developing programs for use by those in the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry.

I'm really looking forward to General Assembly next month. My first GA was 2 years ago in Fort Worth and I had a blast. Please look for us with DHM in the Exhibit Hall. Also be on the lookout for the mobile HIV testing units that we will be using throughout Indianapolis. We will conclude our work at General Assembly on Sunday, August 2nd with an AIDS Healing Service at 8:00 am. I don't have the venue yet, but as soon as I do, I'll post for you to see.



Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Balm in Gilead

I received an email from Kaye Edwards today about an amazing organization called the Balm in Gilead.

The Balm In Gilead, Inc.™ is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization whose mission is to improve the health status of people of the African Diaspora by building the capacity of faith communities to address life-threatening diseases, especially HIV/AIDS.

The Balm In Gilead’s pioneering achievements have enabled thousands of churches to become leaders in preventing the transmission of HIV by providing comprehensive educational programs and offering compassionate support to encourage those infected to seek and maintain treatment. The Balm In Gilead spearheads a dynamic response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the faith community.

For 19 years, The Balm In Gilead has mobilized The Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, which engages Black churches to become centers for education, compassion and care in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The Balm In Gilead has established, and continues to develop, educational and training programs specifically to meet the needs of faith communities that strive to become centers for HIV/AIDS ministries, education and compassion.

I have just spoken with representatives from the Balm in Gilead in hopes of partnering on upcoming programs.

Check out there website at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gaps in Services

It was a beautiful day today in the Wabash Valley. The skies were clear and sunny. Our high was 83 degrees and I could see for miles and miles.

Not a lot happened today, I participated in a conference call for a needs assessment survey for people living with HIV/AIDS in Indiana. Our state government is trying to determine if there are any gaps in services in Indiana.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) provides HIV/AIDS related prescription drugs to uninsured and underinsured individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

ADAP funds are used to provide medications to treat HIV disease, or to prevent the serious deterioration of health, including measures for the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections. As a payer of last resort, ADAP only serves individuals who have neither public nor private insurance or cannot get all of their medication needs met through their insurance payer.

In Indiana, ADAP funds are used to both purchase drugs and to purchase cost-effective insurance. The problem is... funds are limited. As of this morning there were 37 people on the ADAP waiting list in Indiana. As of this afternoon there are 36.

'Michael' and I have know each other for about a year. Michael was diagnosed with HIV in 2005 and entered care in 2008 which was when I met him. Michael was 22 when we met. When his parents noticed he had homosexual tendencies they invited their pastor over to discuss the issue with him. Michael disclosed to his minister that he was gay and the following Sunday the minister announce that there was a sinner in the congregation and he publicly announced that Michael was gay and damned to hell. That day, Michael's parents asked him to move out. Shortly after moving out of his parents home Michael began using methamphetamines to help deal with his depression and sadness. At some point thereafter, Michael was exposed to HIV.

In January of this year Michael's doctor recommended that he start Anti-Retroviral Therapy to treat HIV. Michael was uninsurable and his Medicaid co-pay was $952 per month. An amazing amount considering his income was less than $300 per month and he lived in a local shelter.

Due to budget restrictions there wasn't enough money in the Indiana state budget for Michael to have HIV medication and this morning at 9:18 am he passed away.

But, Indiana has a balanced budget... and we have cut services for people living HIV/AIDS in Indiana again this year.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Reality Check

Yesterday morning as I sat in congregation at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, my friend Dennis James Perry passed away from illnesses associated with advanced HIV disease. Dennis James was a friend with whom I often argued, not because we had issues, but because we both enjoyed a good argument. Dennis James and I had only known each other for about 5 years but we developed a mutual respect for each other quickly. He occasionally provided HIV prevention education classes in Terre Haute. A retired educator, DJ loved working with teenagers, he told me he felt at home with them.

In this world of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) and Long Term Non Progressors (LTNPs) we often forget about the death. In fact, some 5,500 people die from AIDS related illnesses everyday so it is paramount that we do whatever we can to provide prevention education and testing whenever and wherever we can.

Here are some startling facts from USAID:

In 2007, 33 million people around the world were living with HIV/AIDS. More than 64.9 million people have been infected with HIV since the pandemic began. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth leading cause of death globally.

HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects women, with 15.5 million HIV-positive worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, women represent 61 percent of the region’s cases.

An estimated 32 million people have died from AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic.

In 2007, 370,000 children under 15 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children living with HIV to 2 million. About half of all new adult HIV infections occur among 15-24 year olds.

Approximately 95 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS live in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest-hit region, but other regions face severe or rapidly growing epidemics in specific countries or areas. Parts of Asia and Latin America are experiencing severe epidemics at the national or local level. Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the region with the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world.

DJ, you will be missed my friend.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A New Joint Venture

I had a great week in Indianapolis facilitating American Red Cross HIV Prevention Training. During the course of the week I learned that the group providing HIV testing at the Indianapolis Walgreen's Pharmacy stores had stopped providing those services due to manpower issues.

I'm happy to announce that beginning on Friday, May 15th the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry will offer free anonymous HIV testing at the Walgreen's at 16th and Meridian in Indianapolis onboard the mobile HIV testing unit. We will soon announce a schedule listing the days and locations the mobile testing unit will serve sometime in the next few weeks.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Very Special Day

I'm going off topic today because it's a very special day here in Heiligtum, Indiana. Today my partner Roland and I became legal parents of our daughter.
Our adoption is final.

My heart is filled with joy!



Thursday, April 16, 2009

News from Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry and Wabash Valley People Attempting To Help Inc. announced Tuesday a strategy to dramatically increase the availability of Rapid HIV testing for underserved communities in west-central Indiana via a mobile HIV prevention and testing van.

The announcement, made at Human Rights Day at Indiana State University, is part of a multipronged strategy to expand HIV/AIDS awareness and testing in communities throughout the state. This specific program will target Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.

“The first step in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS is through education and to ensure that as many people as possible know their status and are counseled on proper care and prevention,” said volunteer director Jody Grieb. “We stand ready to assist any community health center or clinic as they expand the availability of Rapid HIV testing in underserved communities.”

To cover the gap in testing services, Grieb “unveiled” a mobile testing van. When one participant asked to see the van, Grieb gestured over his shoulder to a large parking lot and noted, “It’s over there”. To keep the testing process as anonymous as possible, the van has no identifying marks or symbols. “DEBI,” as the van is called, can provide testing services anywhere they are needed. Grieb noted that anyone can request testing by calling the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry offices at (812) 232-1381, extension 343, or 888-346-2631, or by going online to

The two clinics currently providing Rapid HIV testing are the Vigo County Health Department Clinic in Terre Haute and the Parke County Family Health and Help Center in Rockville. Grieb told participants that all community health clinics should expand access to Rapid HIV testing, including the Student Health Center at Indiana State University.

“As part of this initiative, I am encouraging every community health center and clinic to begin or increase their Rapid HIV testing,” Grieb said. “If we are going to reduce incidence of HIV/AIDS, we must have this fast, effective testing technology readily available to everyone.” Grieb also encouraged houses of worship to begin provide HIV testing at their sites as well.

Grieb noted that at the end of 2006, an estimated 1,106,400 people (95 percent confidence interval 1,056,400-1,156,400) in the United States were living with HIV infection, with 21 percent undiagnosed.

The Rapid test is important to slowing the spread of HIV because it overcomes a major obstacle in HIV testing. Getting the results in 15-20 minutes means people no longer have to wait one or two weeks and return to the testing site to get their results.

The test requires less than a single drop of blood from the fingertip. The fingertip is cleaned with alcohol and pricked with a needle to get a small drop of blood. Blood is transferred to a small plastic vial containing a solution. The test device is then inserted into the vial. The results can be read in as little as 20 minutes.

Grieb noted that since PATH began testing in October 2008, 99 percent of people who took the Rapid HIV test have received their results. Grieb cited a National Institute of Health study that estimates as many as 40 percent of those who have a traditional blood draw test never return for the results because it requires a two-week wait.

Grieb noted that of approximately 750 people his organization has tested in the Wabash Valley since October, 3 percent have tested positive for HIV antibodies.

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry is a network of Disciples Home Missions, the enabling and coordinating division of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the area of congregational program and mission in North America. Wabash Valley PATH is a community-based organization in Terre Haute and is the Indiana liaison partner of the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry. Wabash Valley PATH is online at

From the Terre Haute Trib-Star:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

DEBI hits the road

Take a moment and look at the picture above. One of the vehicle in this picture is the Disciples Effective Behavioral Intervention van... aka DEBI!

From DEBI we will run our Mobile HIV Prevention and Testing in Rural Settings program. This program is designed to bring peer based HIV/STI prevention education, harm reduction services, counseling, and testing to rural areas. This mobile platform will help make the testing process as convenient, accessible and non-threatening as possible in order to address the proportion of high-risk individuals not accessing testing services in rural areas.

The drivers space and a passenger seat with a work space are contained in the forward cabin. The middle cabin will be used for prevention and education services and HIV testing while the rear compartment will be used for storage of supplies and educational materials. In addition to testing, DEBI will provide harm reduction items and wellness kits.

Testing can be offered at any location thanks to the anonymity of the van. When a client has a presumptive positive test result, transportation and an escort to receive confirmatory testing will be offered. The program will collaborate with an internet based social marketing campaign focused on raising awareness about HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections. At times, outreach workers from the campaign may work in conjunction with the mobile program and go into venues and approach more people about testing services offered on the MTU. The program also collaborates with internal STI testing programs at the appropriate county health department.

The primary goals of this program include:

· To identify HIV positive individuals who did not know their HIV serostatus prior to testing,

· To provide primary HIV prevention services,

· To teach participants the skills needed to protect themselves from HIV disease (partner negotiation, consistent and correct condom use, identifying STI symptoms, harm reduction related to IDU),

· To normalize the HIV testing process,

· To reduce health care disparities in rural areas,

· To facilitate the linkage of HIV positive individuals into care and social services, and

· To recruit peer educators/testers to volunteer with this program in the future.

DEBI will make her debut tonight at various nightclubs in Terre Haute, Indiana. Please pray that God will empower and protect those who volunteer on the van, as well as those we see and speak to throughout the evening.

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry is hard at work raising funds to cover the cost of testing at General Assembly this year in Indianapolis. If you would like information on small things that your congregation can do to help this valuable ministry give me a call at 812.243.6402.

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry and Wabash Valley PATH are proud to introduce the DEBI van!