Balm in Gilead Calls for ‘Every Black Pulpit’ To Talk About HIV/AIDS
About 300 black church pastors and advocates at the end of last month attended a Balm in Gilead conference on AIDS in the black community in Charlotte, N.C., the AP/Wichita Eagle reports (Whitmire, AP/Wichita Eagle, 6/7). The not-for-profit group seeks to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS in the black community by encouraging churches and faith-based groups to provide education and support networks for all people living with and affected by the disease (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/3). The Balm in Gilead also sponsors the annual "Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS" in March, which involves 12,000 congregations. The group offers technical support to churches that want to become "more actively involved" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the AP/Eagle reports. The conference gave churches ideas on how to mobilize their communities; where to seek funding; how to teach abstinence; and how to teach teenagers "survival techniques," including awareness, condom use and abstinence, the AP/Eagle reports (AP/Wichita Eagle, 6/7). Speaking at the meeting, Pernessa Seele, founder of the New York-based group, called on churches to "talk about abstinence first, then condoms" (Garfield, Charlotte Observer/Tallahassee Democrat , 6/8). She also said, "Twenty-two years into this epidemic, the response to this disease continues to be driven by politics and theology -- not by public health and compassion. If we're looking for someone to come and save us -- sorry." Seele added, "We cannot just compartmentalize our response to HIV in our community. We have to do everything. We only have one place to go now, and that's the church. We need every black pulpit talking about HIV" (AP/Wichita Eagle, 6/7).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.