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Balm In Gilead calls for prayer unity in healing HIV/AIDS

OW Staff Writer | 2/23/2011, 5 p.m.

NEW YORK, NY--The Balm In Gilead, one of the country's pioneering organizations in leading a multi-faith community in the fight against HIV/AIDS, is announcing the 22nd Annual National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS (originally the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS) March 6-12, 2011. The week engages people of all faith to unite in prayer for the eradication of HIV/AIDS.

"As members of the faith community, we are a diverse group of believers," says Pernessa Seele, founder and CEO, the Balm In Gilead and creator of the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. "Often, we struggle through our differences and far too many times, we retreat and live behind walls that divide us from our fellow believers. Prayer is the mystical truth of divine love that is common to all believers. Right now in this moment, I invite all believers to step forward beyond the walls that divide us into the circle of conscious prayer and education for the healing of AIDS."

After 20 years of executing the highly successful Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS and mobilizing thousands of congregations across the United States and the Caribbean to engage in a week of education, service, advocacy, and prayer, the Balm In Gilead renamed the Week, The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. What began in 1989 as a pioneer movement to mobilize Black churches to fight HIV/AIDS in the Black community has exploded into a multi-country, multi-faith movement to stop this pandemic.

Today, The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS continues to be observed in not only the United States but also in the Caribbean. With more than 56,000 new HIV/AIDS cases each year and with more than 1 million people living with HIV in the United States, the leadership of the faith community is still critical.

While the week engaged thousands of multi-faith leaders and congregations last year as its first year as the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, President Barack Obama said in a statement to the Balm In Gilead, "...Although we have made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, our battle is far from over."

This year, during the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS March 6-12, the Balm In Gilead is calling on all leaders and people of faith to unite with purpose, compassion, and hope to do the following:
* Educate every American about AIDS facts;
* Encourage and support HIV testing;
* Advocate for the availability of compassionate care and treatment for all those living with the disease in every community in America
* Love, unconditionally, every person living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
* Faith leaders are invited to submit a statement of acknowledgment, prayer, and education for posting on www.nwpha.org.

The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is the inclusive, expansion of the highly successful Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. It was the nation's first national mobilization campaign that specifically focused on HIV/AIDS. The campaign has provided AIDS information to more than five million African Americans through the engagement of Black congregations of every sector across the United States. Launched in 1989 as the Harlem Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, the week engaged Harlem's Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and traditional faith communities brought national attention to the critical and urgent need to engage faith communities in addressing HIV/AIDS, especially in the African American community.

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. To get more information on the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, visit www.NWPHA.org.