177282 Challenges facing African American churches in HIV/AIDS prevention

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 3:00 PM

Dennis Edward Corbin, PhD , College of Health & Human Services, California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson, CA
Clyde W. Oden, DO, MPH, MDiv , Bryant Temple AME Church, Los Angeles, CA
Jennifer A. Hawes-Dawson, BA , Survey Research Group, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
Kathryn Pitkin Derose, PhD, MPH , Health Program, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
African American churches have played significant roles in the response to social issues facing the African American community, particularly around health. Concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer have been addressed by the Black Church with little resistance. In early 2000, the California Department of Health Services called on Black churches to aid in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. African Americans are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly African American women, who predominate in many Black churches. Here we discuss key challenges faced by the Black Church as it responds to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, as well as strategies for overcoming these challenges. To do this, we draw upon evidence from the literature and from a larger, qualitative study that examined the capacity of diverse urban congregations to engage in HIV prevention and care, and the authors' experiences working with African American churches around HIV prevention. Key challenges identified through our research include: pastor and congregational concerns about discussing HIV/AIDS and sexuality in the church; pastor's limited knowledge of and experience with HIV/AIDS; limited congregational resources; and congregation members' lack of comfort with HIV as a focus of their church. We discuss these findings and share practical lessons learned on how to overcome some of the challenges. These include placing HIV prevention activities under a broader umbrella of health promotion activities (e.g., health fairs), inviting HIV positive persons to share their stories with the congregation, and incorporating HIV education into on-going social outreach to high risk individuals in the community.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the challenges that slow the engagement of African American congregations around HIV prevention. 2. Discuss issues that motivate African American congregations to address HIV. 3. Identify possible ways to engage African American congregations in HIV prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am engaged in research on the topic of the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.