RICHMOND, Va. – Despite advances in HIV/AIDS treatments, Black communities continue to face disproportionately high rates of the disease, with African Americans accounting for 42% of new cases, even though they comprise about only 13% of the population, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In an effort to reduce this disparity, The Balm In Gilead Inc. organized the 35th observance of the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS to be held March 5 to March 12. The purpose of the awareness week is to mobilize Black faith communities to educate their members about the disease and to pray for the people and families it affects.
“Faith communities are the central source of knowledge and opinion for many African Americans,” said Dr. Pernessa C. Seele, founder and CEO of The Balm In Gilead, Inc., a nonprofit health promotion and advocacy organization. “We believe that faith institutions are essential to addressing the many health disparities in our community, especially HIV/AIDS, which is shrouded in stigmas that prevent individuals from learning their HIV status and maintaining their treatment.”
A central feature of the week of prayer will be a livestreamed discussion series, The Doctor and the Preacher. Topics will include Scientific Advancements in HIV on March 6, HIV and Mental Health on March 7, and Black Women and HIV on March 8. Each session will begin at noon ET. Viewers can access the series via Facebook and at the organization’s website, https://www.balmingilead.org.