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JACQUES Initiative Joins Maryland AIDS Administration to Extend HIV Testing to the Faith-Based Community
Date:7/21/2009

Project SHALEM: Partnering with the Faith-Based Community to Test in a 'Safe Place'

BALTIMORE, July 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the JACQUES Initiative, a program of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV) at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, in partnership with the Maryland AIDS Administration, several local faith-based and community organizations kicked-off Project SHALEM during City Uprising Baltimore, a four day event sponsored by the Gallery Church Baltimore. Volunteers from nine states along the East Coast descend upon Baltimore to offer community services, including encouraging Baltimoreans to know their HIV status and get tested. Project SHALEM is an unconventional partnership that seeks to take the stereotype and anxiety out of HIV testing through faith-based organizational support. The name, "Shalem," was chosen for its universal expression in all faiths -- Christianity, Judaism and Islam -- symbolizing "peace" or "a safe place."

"The JACQUES Initiative is excited to launch Project SHALEM which is built on community presence and the technical expertise of the Institute of Human Virology to promote education, counseling, testing and linkages to care in Baltimore City," said Derek Spencer, MS CRNP, Executive Director of the JACQUES Initiative. "It is my hope that Project SHALEM serves as a model program for other cities on how to engage faith-based organizations in breaking down stigma by openly talking about the impact of HIV in their community."

Through Project SHALEM faith-based volunteers participate in an unprecedented HIV testing and counseling training sponsored by the Maryland AIDS Administration and supported by the JACQUES Initiative's technical expertise and on-site mentoring and support. These faith-based volunteers are then qualified to bring HIV testing and education
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SOURCE Institute of Human Virology of the University of Maryland School of Medicine
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