February 25, 2008
Richmond, VA -- Thousands of churches across the country will join the Balm In Gilead and its esteemed platform of religious and political leaders to mobilize the Black community in the fight against HIV/AIDS during the 19th annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, March 2-8, 2008. The week-long event, oldest and largest AIDS awareness program targeting the Black faith community, mobilizes thousands of faith institutions and millions of church goers to champion AIDS education, testing and compassionate care in the African American community. Churches and community-based organizations can find out how to become involved in the Black Church Week of Prayer by calling 888-225-6243 or clicking here.
According to Pernessa Seele, Founder and CEO, The Balm In Gilead, the Black Church Week of Prayer is the organization's most visible response to those who have criticized faith communities as being "silent" in the face of AIDS.
"By uniting leaders at the national level and providing local churches with theologically appropriate methods and materials for addressing AIDS at the grassroots level, the Balm In Gilead and its programs empowers Black faith communities to respond effectively to this devastating pandemic."
Simultaneously Addressing AIDS in the USA and Africa
To help mark the 19th annual year of the Black Church Week of Prayer, the Balm In Gilead will introduce The Big Coffee Project, a partnership between The Balm In Gilead and Sweet Unity Farms Gourmet Coffee, a Tanzania-based company, to support the elimination of AIDS both in Africa and the United States.
This partnership will generate funding directly supporting programs designed
to improve HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care services among people
of the African Diaspora, which includes programs in the United States and
Seele adds, "The Balm In Gilead, along with its national leadership, is announcing a call to action for all congregations, organizations and the entire Black community to join the crusade for AIDS education, prevention, testing and compassionate care and services. By supporting The Big Coffee Project, we can raise adequate resources necessary to stop this epidemic among our children and adults. The Big Coffee Project also helps to bring provide the continuum of care to children and adults and bring clean water to poor villages in Tanzania. The Balm In Gilead has issued a call to action to individuals, organizations and churches across the country to support this project by purchasing Sweet Unity Farms Gourmet Coffee at www.thebigcoffeeproject.com." "With your next cup of coffee, you can help can help save a life!" This is another historic moment for the Black community in the fight against AIDS," says Seele.
HIV/AIDS Among Black Americans
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Black Americans living with AIDS increased by 33% between 2001 and 2005 and although Black Americans represent only 12% of the U.S. population, they account for half of AIDS cases. Black women account for the vast majority of new AIDS cases among women and while Black teens (aged 13-19) represent only 15% of U.S. teenagers, they account for more than 70% of new AIDS cases reported among teens. In Sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 24.5 million adults and children are living with HIV.
For More Information
The Balm In Gilead is a 501(c) (3), not-for-profit 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 in the United States and in Africa. Churches can find out how to get involved in The Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS and to support The Big Coffee Project, by logging onto the organization's Web sites at www.balmingilead.org or www.thebigcoffeeproject.org. Information is also available at 888-225-6243. The 19th annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is being supported by Abbott Laboratories.