Michael Bussee wrote to the Southern Nevada Health District to ask about planned to partnership with Canyon Ridge Christian Church to conduct HIV testing on the National HIV Testing Day. He received this reply from Stephanie Bethel of the SNHD.
“Dear Mr. Bussee:
Thank you for bringing this matter to the attention of the Southern Nevada Health District. We were completely unaware of Canyon Ridge Christian Church’s partnership with Pastor Martin Ssempa or his stance on criminalizing homosexuality. The health district is absolutely opposed to the stated efforts of Pastor Ssempa and plans to evaluate and strongly consider any future partnership with Canyon Ridge based on this new information.
However, due to the timing of the testing event, and the outreach efforts that have already occurred related to this testing site, we do not feel we can cancel this venue for next week’s event. We do not condone the church’s continued partnership with Pastor Ssempa; however, we feel the immediate risk of canceling this venue just days before the scheduled event takes precedent at this time. If just one person shows up at a canceled event and decides to delay getting tested, that will be one person too many.
We share your concerns regarding this issue and remain committed to promoting testing in an environment that is comfortable for our clients. Thank you again for your input and for bringing this important issue to our attention.
Southern Nevada Health District
Yesterday, I spoke with Rick Reich, Director of the AIDS program at SNHD and he said the agency leans toward providing prevention, testing and counseling services in as many locations as possible. However, their message of reducing stigma and prevention is constant across locations.