266583 Not Preaching to the Choir: Using Sermons as an HIV Prevention Tool in the Black Church

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Adaora A. Adimora, MD, MPH , Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Moses V. Goldman, EdD, MRE , Divinity School, Shaw University, Raleigh, NC
Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD , Pediatrics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Catalina B. Ramirez, MPH , Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Danny Ellis, MBA, PhD , St. Paul Baptist Church, Wilson, NC
Joseph L. Stevenson, DMin, MDiv , Macedonia New Life Church, Raleigh, NC
Jerry M. Williams, JD, PhD , Agape Word Fellowship, Raleigh, NC
Leonard Williams II , Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Diane B. Francis, MSc, MA , Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background: Churches are a major force in the lives of African Americans and potential ally in HIV prevention. Sermons, the focal point of Black church services, reach many people including some not reached by traditional HIV interventions. Few studies have examined the feasibility of using sermons as an HIV prevention strategy. This study worked with pastors of Black churches to develop culturally appropriate sermon messages that address heterosexual risk behaviors.

Methods: We recruited 35 pastors from Black churches in NC, interviewed them to assess their perception of barriers to incorporating HIV prevention messages into sermons, and formed working groups where we conducted capacity building workshops that addressed the epidemiological, clinical, and social aspects of HIV infection. Pastors generated a list of sermon topics with supporting Scriptures and developed sermons individually or in groups.

Results: Interviews indicated that before the working groups few pastors addressed HIV or sexual behaviors in their sermons due to their perception of a lack of Scriptural support for these discussions and concern that some topics were incompatible with their theology. Nevertheless, all pastors thought sermons should discuss HIV prevention. During the workgroup meetings pastors developed 20 sermons that addressed heterosexual risk behaviors. Sermons incorporated topics that were culturally appropriate and compatible with existing church doctrine, including marriage, partner selection, monogamy, teen pregnancy, and dating behavior.

Conclusion: Sermons are an affordable HIV prevention strategy for reaching many people, including those who are at-risk of acquiring HIV but would not be targeted by conventional HIV interventions.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to: (1) Discuss the significance and potential benefits of using sermon based HIV prevention messages in Black churches; (2) Identify barriers to the inclusion of HIV prevention messages in sermons; and (3) explain the potential role of academic-faith collaborative in developing HIV prevention messages that can be included in sermons in Black churches.

Keywords: HIV Risk Behavior, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator for this project.
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.