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Ethn Dis. 2018 Apr 26;28(2):85-92. doi: 10.18865/ed.28.2.85. eCollection 2018 Spring.

African American Clergy Perspectives About the HIV Care Continuum: Results From a Qualitative Study in Jackson, Mississippi.

Author information

1
Center for Health Equity Research, School of Public Health, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
2
Department of Sociology and Social Work, North Carolina Agriculture and Technology State University, Greensboro, North Carolina.
3
University of Washington Bothell, School of Nursing & Health Studies, Bothell, Washington.
4
University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi.
5
Mississippi State Department of Health, Jackson, Mississippi.
6
Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut.
7
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
8
The Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island.

Abstract

Mississippi has some of the most pronounced racial disparities in HIV infection in the country; African Americans comprised 37% of the Mississippi population but represented 80% of new HIV cases in 2015. Improving outcomes along the HIV care continuum, including linking and retaining more individuals and enhancing adherence to medication, may reduce the disparities faced by African Americans in Mississippi. Little is understood about clergy's views about the HIV care continuum. We assessed knowledge of African American pastors and ministers in Jackson, Mississippi about HIV and the HIV care continuum. We also assessed their willingness to promote HIV screening and biomedical prevention technologies as well as efforts to enhance linkage and retention in care with their congregations. Four focus groups were conducted with 19 African American clergy. Clergy noted pervasive stigma associated with HIV and believed they had a moral imperative to promote HIV awareness and testing; they provided recommendations on how to normalize conversations related to HIV testing and treatment. Overall, clergy were willing to promote and help assist with linking and retaining HIV positive individuals in care but knew little about how HIV treatment can enhance prevention or new biomedical technologies such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Clergy underscored the importance of building coalitions to promote a collective local response to the epidemic. The results of this study highlight important public health opportunities to engage African American clergy in the HIV care continuum in order to reduce racial disparities in HIV infection.

KEYWORDS:

African Americans; Faith Leaders; HIV; HIV Care Continuum

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