Online Program

Importance of senior denominational leadership in systematic change: Reshaping the black church's response to HIV through the black church and HIV: The social justice imperative initiative

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Shavon Arline-Bradley, MPH, Health Department, NAACP, Baltimore, MD
1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. More than 510,000 are Black. What perhaps is most startling is that this proportion has been eerily similar since 1981. The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative Initiative seeks to mobilize the Black faith community by strengthening its capacity to address the social justice needs of the HIV/AIDS epidemic within communities of color. The Initiative began with a research project that revealed many are still under-educated about basic HIV facts. Stigma prevents many from engaging in a discussion about HIV. From a historical perspective, framing HIV as a social justice issue was an authentic approach that resonated with church leaders. By removing sex and drugs from the conversation, senior denominational leadership is able to approach the conversation from a position of security. Senior leadership has the potential to educate and change the behaviors of thousands of faith leaders, who can change the behaviors of their congregants. The top-down approach can create systemic change for 20 million parishioners. The Initiative staff now has firm commitments from leadership at six mainline denominations in the Black Church. In order to build on this momentum, actionable plans are a required. The existing commitments provide a framework for engagement, but plans for concrete implementation are needed. The hope is that the leadership from the Initiative will no longer be the first voice heard when it comes to HIV in the Black community; eventually, it will be a new cohort of Black Church leaders.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the current vacuum in the Black Church’s response to the HIV epidemic in Black America – particularly at the senior denominational leadership level – and create a platform for systematic change to engage leaders in filling the void.

Keyword(s): African American, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have directed the NAACP Health Department's initiative titled The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative since its inception and continue to provide oversight for the direction and success of the 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.