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Glob Public Health. 2011;6 Suppl 2:S227-42. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2011.605068.

Ideologies of Black churches in New York City and the public health crisis of HIV among Black men who have sex with men.

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Department of Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


Black men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS in New York City (NYC). Black churches in NYC have a history of engaging in community mobilisation; however, research suggests that churches play a role in promoting stigma against Black MSM, which impedes prevention efforts. The goal of this study was to explore church ideologies surrounding sexuality and health, and the relationship of these ideologies to church mobilisation in response to HIV/AIDS among Black MSM. We conducted interviews and focus groups with pastors and parishioners at Black churches in NYC. Three prominent themes were identified: (1) 'Love the sinner, hate the sin'--distinguishing behaviour and identity; (2) 'Don't ask, don't tell'--keeping same-sex behaviour private; and (3) 'Your body is a temple'--connecting physical and spiritual health. We discuss the implications of these ideologies for church mobilisation and HIV prevention efforts. In doing so, we pay close attention to how ideologies may both impede and facilitate church dialogue around sexuality and heightened responses to the HIV crisis affecting Black MSM.

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