Thursday, March 16, 2006—The Balm In Gilead, Inc. has spearheaded a nationwide series of educational forums known as The ISIS Project, a national health initiative to increase public awareness about cervical cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer. The goal of the ISIS Project is to educate Black women about cervical cancer, HPV, and the need for routine screening to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.

Now in the second year of the initiative, The ISIS Project demonstrates the Balm in Gilead’s commitment to ending the disabling impact that cervical cancer has had on African American women. Critical to educating Black women about cervical cancer is making women aware of potentially life saving new technologies like the HPV test.

Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers with an identified cause. The statistics for African American women are particularly alarming given that cervical cancer is entirely preventable. African American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer at higher rates than white women. In addition, African American women have the highest cervical cancer mortality of any group of women in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, African American women are more than twice as likely to die from cervical cancer as white women.

Cervical cancer rates have decreased significantly over the last 60 years, due to widespread screening using the Pap test. Though the Pap test has been an effective it is not foolproof. The Pap test may actually miss some women at risk for cervical cancer. Recently, the FDA has approved the HPV test for screening in women 30 years old and over. Since that time the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have published guidelines that recommend the Pap and the HPV test be taken at the same time in women 30 years old and over.

“The vision of this initiative is to create optimal health and wellness throughout Black women’s entire lives, taking into account the full spectrum of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual issues,” stated Pernessa Seele, Founder/CEO of the Balm In Gilead.

For the past 17 years, The Balm In Gilead has been a pioneer in building the capacity of African American faith communities to address HIV/AIDS. “Utilizing all of our lessons learned over these years of addressing HIV/AIDS within Black communities, The Balm In Gilead is expanding its services to address yet another deadly disease among Black women which is also 100% preventable—cervical cancer” said Pernessa Seele. Through the ISIS project, The Balm In Gilead is dedicated to educating women about the need for regular screening with the most advanced screening technologies available like the HPV test.

For additional information about The Balm In Gilead, visit our website Call toll free in the United States 1-888-225-6243. Support for the ISIS Project is made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Digene Corporation.