A Faith-Based Community Partnership to Address HIV/AIDS in the Southern United States: Implementation, Challenges, and Lessons Learned
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Though race and region are not by themselves risk factors for HIV infection, regional and racial disparities exist in the burden of HIV/AIDS in the US. Specifically, African Americans in the southern US appear to bear the brunt of this burden due to a complex set of upstream factors like structural and cultural influences that do not facilitate HIV/AIDS awareness, HIV testing, or sexual risk-reduction techniques while perpetuating HIV/AIDS-related stigma. Strategies proposed to mitigate the burden among this population have included establishing partnerships and collaborations with non-traditional entities like African American churches and other faith-based organizations. Though efforts to partner with the African American church are not necessarily novel, most of these efforts do not present a model that focuses on building the capacity of the African American church to address these upstream factors and sustain these interventions. This article will describe Project Fostering AIDS Initiatives That Heal (F.A.I.T.H), a faith-based model for successfully developing, implementing, and sustaining locally developed HIV/AIDS prevention interventions in African American churches in South Carolina. This was achieved by engaging the faith community and the provision of technical assistance, grant funding and training for project personnel. Elements of success, challenges, and lessons learned during this process will also be discussed.
KeywordsFaith-based HIV/AIDS prevention programs Community partnerships HIV/AIDS Racial disparities Health promotion Sexual health Organizational capacity
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