Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 248–267 | Cite as

Black Churches Creating Safe Spaces to Combat Silence and Stigma Related to AIDS

  • Michelle Beadle-Holder


AIDS has been one of the most severe contemporary crises to affect Black American communities. With epidemic rates surpassing several African nations, health professionals and AIDS activists have called on black churches to help lead the fight to end AIDS. This study examines the response efforts of eight black churches (three of which are megachurches) to this illness. Interviews reveal three specific approaches used to address HIV- and AIDS-related stigma and silence—quilting, prayer, and practices in liberation theology. Overall, these approaches illuminate the progressive and conservative forces that make some churches more effective than others in ending multiple silences and stigmas surrounding AIDS.


Black Church Megachurches AIDS Sex and sexuality Stigma 



I would like to thank the Sociology Department at the University of Maryland for providing me with the financial support to write this paper over the summer of 2010. I would also like to thank Dr. Ivy Ken for advising me through this research. My sincere thanks Dr. Sangeetha Madhavan for your inspiration, words of support, and critical comments to improve this paper. I would also like to thank Robert Holder for his unending encouragement and to Kasia Skuratowicz, Dania Beadle, and Tamara Wilds Lawson for their edits and comments. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to thank the respondents who volunteered their time and stories for this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, 2112 Art/Sociology BuildingUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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