An Exploration of U.S. Southern Faith Leaders’ Perspectives of HIV Prevention, Sexuality, and Sexual Health Teachings
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Reducing human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) racial/ethnic disparities in the Deep South has been a critical objective of the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy. This finding, originally published in 2010 by the Office of National AIDS Policy, serves as a complement to the Health and Human Resources and Services Administration's Ending the HIV Epidemic (EtHE): A Plan for America. The EtHE plan, released in 2019, emphasizes community stakeholder involvement to achieve the planning goals of decreasing new HIV infections in key U.S. geographic areas. According to the plan, an important stakeholder is faith leaders, especially around stigma reduction. This paper focuses on a community-academic research partnership's exploration of southern Black faith leaders' teaching perspectives regarding HIV prevention, sexuality, and sexual health in predominantly Black congregations in Memphis, Tennessee. The partnership conducted four focus groups using a semi-structured discussion interview. Any adult faith leader involved in ministry work in a predominantly Black church was eligible to participate in the discussion. A total of 26 faith leaders with a mean age of 54, representing four Christian denominations, consented to participate in the study. Emerging themes included: (1) restriction of scripture to teach prevention and address sexuality, (2) role of secrecy and silence in living with HIV, and (3) impact of the stigma of HIV and sexuality. Findings may inform nationwide jurisdictional implementation plans, particularly for faith-based interventions in southern churches working toward ending the HIV epidemic.
author list (cited authors)
Pichon, L. C., Powell, T. W., Stubbs, A. W., Becton-Odum, N., Ogg, S., Arnold, T., & Thurston, I. B.