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Early Results of a Statewide Initiative to Involve Faith Communities in HIV Prevention

Tyrell, Carol O. BS, CHES; Klein, Susan J. MS; Gieryic, Susan M. MSW; Devore, Barbara S. MS; Cooper, Jay G. BA; Tesoriero, James M. PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: September/October 2008 - Volume 14 - Issue 5 - p 429–436
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000333876.70819.14
Article

In the United States, racial/ethnic health disparities persist across all leading health indicators. In 2005, African Americans accounted for half of all HIV/AIDS cases, but only 12 percent of the US population was African American. Since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute recognized the importance of faith communities' involvement in HIV prevention. A survey assessed faith community involvement in HIV prevention, identified barriers to involvement, and determined willingness to partner with HIV prevention programs. Although less than 25 percent of respondents reported involvement in HIV prevention, 50 percent were willing to meet with service providers. Those willing to meet included 74 percent of faith leaders with primarily African American congregants. On the basis of the survey and subsequent forums, a statewide initiative was created to involve faith communities in HIV prevention. An assessment of the statewide initiative showed that it has been highly effective in engaging faith community involvement, including a large number of African American faith communities. These findings have implications for future programming and can aid to further strengthen the statewide initiative.

This study focuses on racial/ethnic health disparities persisting across all leading health indicators in the United States.

Carol O. Tyrell, BS, CHES, is Faith Communities Project Coordinator, Division of HIV Prevention, New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, Albany.

Susan J. Klein, MS, is Deputy Director, New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, Albany.

Susan M. Gieryic, MSW, is Evaluation Specialist, Office of Program Evaluation & Research, New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, Albany.

Barbara S. Devore, MS, is Deputy Director, New York State Department of Health, Center for Community Health, Albany.

Jay G. Cooper, BA, is Health Program Administrator, New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, Albany.

James M. Tesoriero, PhD, is Director, Office of Program Evaluation & Research, New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, Albany.

Corresponding Author: Carol O. Tyrell, BS, CHES, New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, Corning Tower, Room 308, Albany, NY 12237 (cot01@health.state.ny.us).

This work was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) HIV Prevention Cooperative Agreement U62/CCU202061-17 (Guthrie S. Birkhead, principal investigator) Health Research, Inc, and the NYS Department of Health. The authors greatly appreciate the support and leadership of Dan O'Connell, Director of the Division of HIV Prevention, and Bethsabet Justiniano, Director of the Bureau of Community-Based Services, at the AIDS Institute, NYSDOH.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.