187013 “That's the Devil's Work”: Rural African-Americans describe the role of the church in addressing HIV

Monday, October 27, 2008

Selena Youmans, BA , Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Adaora Adimora, MD, MPH , Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, MSc , TraCS Community Engagement Core, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Aletha Akers, MD, MPH , Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Magee-Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA
Connie Blumenthal, MPH , Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Stacey W. Lloyd, MPH , 3-C Institute for Social Development, Cary, NC
Malika Roman Isler, PhD, MPH , NC TraCS Institute - Community Engagement Core, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Arlinda Ellison, MS , Edgecombe County Health Department, Tarboro, NC
Melvin R. Muhammad, AA , Project Momentum, Inc., Tarboro, NC
Barbara Council , Community Enrichment Organization, Oak City, NC
While academic-church partnerships have resulted in significant impacts on various health behaviors within the African American community, Blacks continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in the U.S. We explore rural African Americans' perceptions of how Black Churches can address HIV in the South through a church-based health promotion (CBHP) model. We report data from eleven focus groups with rural African Americans aged 16-45 years (n=94) conducted as part of a community-based participatory research project designed to develop a multi-level HIV risk reduction intervention. Thematic analysis of focus group data was performed by three independent coders using principles of grounded theory. Participants felt the Church's involvement in prevention efforts could significantly reduce the spread of HIV but did not feel that pastors were the appropriate persons within the Church to lead these efforts. Participants expressed a desire for the Church to mobilize around the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on African Americans but felt the Church's reluctance to address this issue stemmed from the “old beliefs” about the cause of HIV (i.e, punishment for sin). Participants felt that researchers should make a greater effort to educate Church leaders about HIV so that pastors would feel more comfortable approaching the topic from the pulpit. Reconciling the Church's traditional beliefs with medicine's biological model of disease is a challenge to researchers seeking church partnerships. However, the integral role of Black Church in the lives of the African American communities it serves emphasizes the advantage of using CBHP model to address HIV.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the potential role of the Black Church in addressing HIV in the South Discuss ways to address two areas of concern when partnering with churches in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts

Keywords: African American, HIV Interventions

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I analyzed the data and wrote 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.