Objectives. Project F.A.I.T.H. (Fostering AIDS Initiatives that Heal) was established in January 2006 to reduce the stigma of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among African American faith-based organizations in South Carolina. During its first year, Project F.A.I.T.H. funded 22 churches to provide HIV-related programs and services to their congregations and surrounding communities. To determine the baseline level of HIV-related knowledge and stigmatizing attitudes, we conducted a survey with parishioners, pastors, and care team members at Project F.A.I.T.H. churches. Methods. During 2007, 20 Project F.A.I.T.H. churches conducted cross-sectional surveys with 1,445 parishioners, 61 pastors, and 109 care team members measuring their HIV-related knowledge and stigmatizing attitudes. Results. While most parishioners were very knowledgeable about HIV transmission via unprotected sex and needle sharing during injection drug use, they were less knowledgeable about transmission via casual contact, mosquitoes, donating blood, and an HIV test. Overall, HIV-related stigma was low at Project F.A.I.T.H. churches. However, males and older parishioners (aged $65 years) were significantly less knowledgeable and had greater HIV-related stigma than females and younger parishioners. Pastors and care team members at Project F.A.I.T.H. churches were significantly more knowledgeable and harbored significantly less stigma than their parishioners. Conclusions. To effectively address HIV-related stigma at African American churches, educational programs must reinforce the ways in which HIV can and cannot be transmitted, and pay particular attention to educating males and older populations. These findings may be helpful to HIV-prevention efforts targeting African American faith-based organizations in South Carolina and elsewhere.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health