Online Program

Promoting Mutual HIV Testing in the Black Church and Beyond: Perspectives from Black/African American Seminarians

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tiffiany Aholou, PhD, MSW, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Madeline Sutton, M.D., MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Epidemiology Branch, Atlanta, GA

Nearly 18% of Americans are unaware of their HIV status, and blacks/African Americans (blacks) are disproportionately affected. Routine HIV testing is a critical step in HIV prevention and has been recommended as part of routine health care in the United States (U.S.). Mutual HIV testing (MHT) supports heterosexual and same-sex couples testing together, but has not yet been widely studied in the U.S.  Given the burden of HIV among blacks and the churches’ central role in black culture, we explored strategies to promote MHT among couples attending Black Churches.


Using an exploratory, descriptive qualitative research design, we conducted individual interviews with black seminarians in the southern U.S.  Transcribed interviews were entered into Atlas.ti 6.2 and analyzed using a constant comparative, thematic approach to identify main themes. 


Five male and five female seminarians participated (mean age 38.4 years; range 24-56); all 10 (100%) supported MHT. Seven faith denominations were represented.  Three main themes emerged regarding the promotion of MHT: 1) church-based approaches that engage clergy, laypersons, and existing ministries are vital (e.g., premarital and couples’ counseling); 2) perceived tensions or obstacles about MHT may prohibit action by clergy (e.g. concerns about offending congregants), and; 3) it may be necessary to reach beyond the church for additional support (e.g., policies, media and schools).


This sample of black seminarians supported MHT among couples and perceived the Black Church as being instrumental in promoting MHT among couples who attend these venues.  Partnerships with other sectors should be explored for possible MHT collaborative efforts.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe at least five strategies to promote mutual HIV testing. Discuss tensions that clergy may encounter when promoting mutual HIV testing.

Keyword(s): HIV Interventions, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an experienced qualitative researcher who has led and published studies that have explored ways to engage the Black Faith Community in HIV prevention efforts.
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.