Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 1968–1979 | Cite as

“Wake Up! HIV is at Your Door”: African American Faith Leaders in the Rural South and HIV Perceptions: A Qualitative Analysis

  • Tiffiany M. AholouEmail author
  • Eric Cooks
  • Ashley Murray
  • Madeline Y. Sutton
  • Zaneta Gaul
  • Susan Gaskins
  • Pamela Payne-Foster
Original Paper


In Alabama, 70 % of new HIV cases are among African Americans. Because the Black Church plays an important role for many African Americans in the south, we conducted qualitative interviews with 10 African American pastors recruited for an HIV intervention study in rural Alabama. Two main themes emerged: (1) HIV stigma is prevalent and (2) the role of the Black Church in addressing HIV in the African American community. Our data suggest that pastors in rural Alabama are willing to be engaged in HIV prevention solutions; more formalized training is needed to decrease stigma, strengthen HIV prevention and support persons living with HIV/AIDS.


Black Church African Americans HIV Stigma Rural south 



This study was funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Program Announcement PS11-003; 5U01PS003320. We thank all of the ministerial liaisons and pastors who participated in this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of interest

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors have no financial conflicts of interest relevant to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tiffiany M. Aholou
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eric Cooks
    • 2
  • Ashley Murray
    • 1
  • Madeline Y. Sutton
    • 1
  • Zaneta Gaul
    • 1
    • 3
  • Susan Gaskins
    • 2
  • Pamela Payne-Foster
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of HIV/AIDS PreventionCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  3. 3.ICF InternationalAtlantaUSA

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