The prevalence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to affect African Americans (AA) disproportionately. Guided by the health belief model, the purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine associations linking church and ambient social environment with knowledge and perceptions of HIV/AIDS testing amongst urban and rural AA church members. Multiple regression and t tests were used to compare perceptions of HIV/AIDS testing and knowledge of HIV/AIDS among 236 participants selected from two AA churches located in a large city (n = 122) and rural town (n = 114) in the Southern U.S. The quantitative findings of this study indicated that while the urban participants reported significantly higher rates of testing than the rural participants, the groups had equally high HIV knowledge and positive perceptions of HIV/AIDS testing. In-depth individual interviews (24 urban; 24 rural) were conducted to gain a better understanding of the factors that contribute to perceptions of HIV/AIDS testing and knowledge of HIV/AIDS. Transcripts were axially coded for a priori themes and then analyzed for emergent categories of responses. These interviews indicated that the participant's perceptions of HIV/AIDS testing were not influenced by the church and that there were no noticeable distinctions regarding why HIV/AIDS testing was sought. The combined results of this study suggested that the churches surveyed were not promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, and that the participants felt that the church should do more as it relates to HIV/AIDS. The AA church plays an important role in the lives of AAs, and potentially can bring forth social change by advocating HIV/AIDS testing and prevention efforts in order to reduce the rate of HIV infection, particularly in rural areas.
|Subjects||African American studies; Black studies; Religious education; Public health|
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