Effects of a Pilot Church-Based Intervention to Reduce HIV Stigma and Promote HIV Testing Among African Americans and Latinos

Published in: AIDS and Behavior, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on April 25, 2016

by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, Beth Ann Griffin, David E. Kanouse, Laura M. Bogart, Malcolm V. Williams, Ann C. Haas, Karen Rocío Flórez, Deborah Owens Collins, Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Michael Mata, et al.

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Research Question

  1. Is a church-based intervention feasible, acceptable, and effective in reducing HIV stigma and mistrust and increasing HIV testing among members of Latino and African American congregations?

HIV-related stigma and mistrust contribute to HIV disparities. Addressing stigma with faith partners may be effective, but few church-based stigma reduction interventions have been tested. We implemented a pilot intervention with 3 Latino and 2 African American churches (4 in matched pairs) in high HIV prevalence areas of Los Angeles County to reduce HIV stigma and mistrust and increase HIV testing. The intervention included HIV education and peer leader workshops, pastor-delivered sermons on HIV with imagined contact scenarios, and HIV testing events. We surveyed congregants at baseline and 6 month follow-up (n = 1235) and found statistically significant (p < 0.05) reductions in HIV stigma and mistrust in the Latino intervention churches but not in the African American intervention church nor overall across matched African American and Latino pairs. However, within matched pairs, intervention churches had much higher rates of HIV testing (p < 0.001). Stigma reduction and HIV testing may have synergistic effects in community settings.

Key Findings

  • This pilot study found that a theoretically-based and community-partnered intervention in Latino Catholic and Protestant churches reduced HIV stigma and mistrust among congregants.
  • It did not yield reductions among African American congregations, or overall across all types of churches.
  • However, both the Latino and the African American churches involved in the study had higher rates of HIV testing than their matched controls.
  • Church-based HIV stigma reduction programs may have synergistic effects with HIV testing when provided in combination.

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