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

“As members of the faith community we are a diverse group of believers,” said Pernessa Seele, founder and CEO of the organization. “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.”

Today, the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS continues to be observed in not only the United States, but also the Caribbean. With more than 56,000 new HIV/AIDS cases each year and with more than one 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, the Balm In Gilead is calling on all leaders and people of faith to unite with purpose, compassion and hope to 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 and love, unconditionally, every person living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Faith leaders are invited to submit a statement of acknowledgement, prayer and education for 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 well-over 5 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.