142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

“Love the sinner, hate the sin”: Examining black faith leaders' perceptions of homosexuality and HIV

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 3:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Katherine Quinn, MA , Institute of Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Julia Dickson-Gomez, PhD , Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Background: Emerging research posits that black churches are ideal community-based institutions for HIV prevention interventions. Althoughreligious involvement has been associated with improved mental and physical health, church-related anti-gay treatment and stigma may actually increase vulnerability to HIV/AIDS for LGBTQ individuals by increasing stress and isolation. This study examined black faith leaders’ perceptions of homosexuality and HIV within the black community to assess the feasibility of the black church as a site for the provision of HIV prevention for young black MSM.

Methods: Black male pastors of inner-city churches were directly recruited through existing faith-based networks and via snowball sampling for semi-structured interviews (n=20). We sampled for diversity of age, denomination, and congregation size. Audio files were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using MAXQDA.

Results: Despite relatively negative views of homosexuality and traditional HIV prevention approaches (e.g. condom use), pastors overwhelmingly expressed a ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ mentality. They viewed their churches as welcoming to LGBTQ individuals, especially youth, yet many simultaneously expressed sentiments that could be detrimental  to LGBT congregants including beliefs that homosexuality is a ‘sinful’  or ‘deviant lifestyle’ that can be ‘cured.’ Importantly, however, pastors believed black churches could and should play a role in HIV prevention efforts, especially for young black men.

Conclusions: Despite pastors’ views on homosexuality, they were overwhelmingly interested in being involved in HIV prevention. Although it may be difficult to reconcile pastors’ beliefs on homosexuality with their desire to engage in HIV prevention, there appear to be opportunities for faith-based HIV interventions.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the health benefits of church involvement, as well as how stigma around homosexuality can increase vulnerability to HIV Explain pastors’ views on homosexuality and HIV within the black church Discuss opportunities for engaging black churches in faith-based HIV prevention initiatives

Keyword(s): HIV/AIDS, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD Candidate in Public and Community Health with a focus on HIV prevention and racial disparities in HIV. I have been involved in HIV prevention research for the past 4 years. This work is part of my dissertation research.
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.