The Balm In Gilead Gears Up For Seventh Annual Our Church Lights The Way Testing Campaign

NEW YORK, May 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Balm In Gilead announces the seventh annual Our Church Lights The Way: The Black Church HIV Testing Campaign, a partnership between the Balm In Gilead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Black Church to solicit the Black faith leadership to encourage African Americans to get tested for HIV and to know their status.

This campaign, which runs the entire month of June and culminates June 27th National HIV Testing Day, seeks to get every African American tested for HIV and to help Black churches become community centers for HIV/AIDS education and information.

"The quest to save African Americans from HIV/AIDS is the civil rights fight for today," says Pernessa Seele, Founder and CEO, The Balm In Gilead. "We need the African American church to, once again, mobilize and engage the entire Black community in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS among our men, women and children. The strong voice of the Black pulpit must speak loud on HIV prevention, which includes informing African Americans about the importance of HIV testing and counseling."

Of the estimated 40,000 new HIV infections each year, more than 50 percent occur among African Americans. AIDS is the number one cause of death for Black adults aged 25 to 44, before heart disease, cancer and homicide.

The Balm In Gilead's pioneering achievements have enabled thousands of churches to become leaders in preventing HIV by providing comprehensive educational programs and offering compassionate support to encourage those infected to seek Church-based programs. The organization has expanded its efforts internationally to address the devastation of HIV/AIDS in African countries including Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

The Balm In Gilead's other groundbreaking work in the African American faith community includes the African American Denominational Leadership Health Initiative. Launched in March 2004, this historic partnership between the Balm In Gilead and the women's missionary societies and councils of three Black religious denominations -- The African Methodist Episcopal Church, The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church -- is designed to build the capacity of these denominations to address cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS and other health issues in Black communities. To learn more about these and other church-based HIV testing programs and how your church can participate in "Our Church Lights the Way: The Black Church HIV Testing Campaign," call The Balm In Gilead at 888-225-6243 or log on at

The Balm In Gilead

CONTACT: Teresa Lyles Holmes of TLH Communications, +1-914-281-5317, forThe Balm In Gilead

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