In 2014, a pastor from Alabama stood before the church and admitted his AIDS status to the members.

Alabama, known for its Black Belt Region, is home to over 30 counties, as mentioned in the Encyclopedia of Alabama. The region is characterized by its unique qualities and features, as the Encyclopedia states.

Its characteristics include low taxes on property, high rates of poverty and unemployment, low-achieving schools, and high rates of out-migration.

Rise in HIV Numbers

In a recent article published in January 2024, Alabama Media reported on a study conducted by researchers from the University of Alabama. The study revealed that three counties in the Black Belt region of Alabama, namely Dallas, Lowndes, and Perry, were identified as severe HIV hotspots.

The article provided more information about the study by explaining the following:

In Perry County HIV the claims rate is 178.29 per 100,000, in Dallas it was 224.72 per 100,000 and in Lowndes it was 139.81 per 100,000.

A Black Belt Pastor’s Confession

In September 2014, WSFA reported that Juan McFarland, a former pastor in Alabama, stood before the congregation at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church (Montgomery County) and openly admitted that he was living with full-blown AIDS. Shockingly, he revealed that he had not disclosed his status to multiple church members with whom he had relationships in the past. Furthermore, he disclosed that he had contracted HIV in 2003 and developed AIDS in 2008.

According to Reuters, McFarland openly admitted to the church about his struggles with drug addiction and the improper use of church funds for personal gain. As a result, the parishioners made the decision to remove him from his role as pastor. Despite the vote, McFarland stubbornly refused to step down.

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According to NBC News, McFarland allegedly went to the extent of replacing the doors and locks of the church and even tried to gain control of its bank account. As a result, in December 2014, Alabama Judge Charles Pierce issued an order preventing McFarland from accessing the church.

The article concludes by stating:

McFarland was ordered not to return to the church, to turn over all church property and to give up any claim to the church-owned Mercedes-Benz.

In March 2014, McFarland delivered a sermon titled “How to Deal With Fear,” several months before his confession.

SMBC Sunday Sermon - 9 March14 - (How To Deal With Fear) Pastor J.D. McFarland

As per HIV Law and Policy, Alabama currently does not have a specific criminal statute for HIV. However, individuals who intentionally transmit the disease can face charges under a Class C felony. This offense carries a maximum prison sentence of ten years, in addition to a potential fine of $15,000.

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