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Rural Church and Older Rural African American

La Verne Reid, PHD, MPH, Department of Health Education North Carolina Central University, North Carolina Central University - Department of Health Education, Miller Morgan Health Sciences Bldg., Durham, NC 27707, 919-560-6404, lreid@wpo.nccu.edu and Miles Simpson, PHD, MPH, Department of Sociology North Carolina Central University, North Carolina Central University, Edmonds Classroom Bldg., Durham, NC 27707.

Abstract: We examine rural churches’ response to older rural African American women living with an autoimmune deficiency virus HIV infection. For rural women living in tight knit communities, the diagnosis of HIV threatens rejection and the loss of critical support from their conservative religious communities. This study examines church activities and spirituality of twelve rural and small city North Carolinian African American women living with HIV before and after their diagnosis of HIV. We recruited these women from three area medical centers and public health and private practice. These women experience rejection at first but they still remained involved in their churches. Contrasted with their urban counterparts, these rural women gain valuable support through their church. Rural churches slowly but perceptibly adapt to these women’s HIV status and provide support on the case by case basis. Formal church based support groups and initiatives are limited. Spirituality was important for most of these women before and after their HIV infection as it was for their urban counterparts. In contrast, these rural African American women maintain their ties to their church from which they gain emotional strength. The rural African American church represents an ideal but untapped venue for public health initiatives directed against HIV and for support of people living with HIV/AIDS. Older women living with HIV could play key roles in a church/public health initiative against HIV infection.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant (learner) in this session will be able to

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Religion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

HIV/AIDS Research Roundtable: African American Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA