Black AIDS Group Expands Focus To Cervical Cancer, Hepatitis C

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The Balm in Gilead, an 18-year-old, national not-for-profit that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among black religious communities, will expand its focus to address cervical cancer and hepatitis C, Pernessa Seele, founder and CEO of the organization, said on Tuesday, Religion News Service/USA Today reports.

"We know that HIV is not the only issue that we must address as a people," Seele said. The group will collaborate with local congregations, urging them to become active in public policy, while promoting good health as a "unique part of our spiritual life," Leslie Watson-Malachi, the organization's national policy director, said.

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The Balm in Gilead also will establish the African-American Faith-based Health Policy Institute, which will be located in its Washington, D.C., office. The institute will provide education and advocacy training for black religious communities on HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer and other health disparities. The group will target young girls and black women in particular.

"We want to train people in the faith community to become more involved in holding their elected officials accountable," the Rev. Susan Newman, director of the organization's Washington, D.C., office, said, adding, "We need to do more than just pray. ... Prayer is the first action step. The next one is to talk about what's wrong and then make sure our elected officials are held accountable and do something about that" (Religion News Service/USA Today, 7/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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