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

into communities where members feel safe to be tested for HIV. While today marks the kick-off of Project SHALEM in coordination with City Uprising Baltimore, the long-term program is staged in two phases with Phase 1 engaging the JACQUES Initiative's existing partners from the Christian community -- including HopeSprings, a long-term partner comprised of two local churches with 30 members participating in Project SHALEM. Phase II will engage new partners, including Baltimore's Jewish and Muslim communities. The ultimate goal is to build the foundation for a sustainable Project SHALEM and finally put the first real dent in combating the HIV crisis within Baltimore's strong faith-based communities.

"We must increase our coordination and collaborative efforts to scale up HIV prevention messages, and increase access to HIV counseling, testing and treatment," said Dr. Angela Wakhweya, Deputy Director of the Maryland DHMH AIDS Administration. "We thank the JACQUES Initiative for their leadership in coordinating this event to increase HIV awareness and testing in Baltimore City."

Maryland AIDS Administration 2007 data shows the largest proportion, greater than 70%, of new and living cases of HIV are in Baltimore City, Prince Georges and Montgomery County. The Centers for Disease Control's estimates from 2006, reports 21% of Americans infected with HIV do not know they are infected and those unaware of their HIV status are responsible for more than half of the new sexually transmitted infections in the U.S.

When asked about his church's participation in this project nationally known Reverend Frank Reid of Bethel AME Church stated, "We are proud to be a partner of the JACQUES Initiative and IHV. We are trying to put together a partnership that will be a model for cities across the nation where churches will become health centers for people with HIV and hypertension.
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SOURCE Institute of Human Virology of the University of Maryland School of Medicine
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