Church-Based HIV Screening in Racial/Ethnic Minority Communities of California, 2011–2012
Published in: Public Health Reports, v. 131, no. 5, Sept 2016, p. 676-684; doi:10.1177/0033354916662641
Community-based human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing at religious congregations has been proposed as a potentially effective way to increase screening among disproportionately affected populations, such as those self-identifying as African American and Latino. Although congregations may provide reach into these communities, the extent to which church-based HIV testing alleviates access barriers, identifies new cases, and reaches people at increased risk for HIV is not well documented. We examined the results of an HIV testing program that was conducted as part of a larger intervention aimed at reducing HIV stigma at five churches in Los Angeles County, California, in 2011-2012. HIV screening identified one positive result in 323 tests but reached a substantial proportion of people who had not been tested before, including many who lacked health insurance. Although this approach may not be an efficient way to identify cases of previously unknown HIV infection, it could help achieve universal testing goals.