HIV/AIDS study nearing end

A research study examining the role that African-American churches and congregations can play in reducing HIV-AIDS related stigma in rural Alabama is nearing the finish line.

Dr. Pamela Payne-Foster, deputy director of the College’s Institute for Rural Health Research, is the principal investigator of the $540,368 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is also an associate professor in the College’s Department of Community and Rural Medicine.

The purpose of the study, titled Faith-Based Anti-Stigma Initiative Towards Healing HIV/AIDS, or Project FAITHH, is to conduct and evaluate an HIV/AIDS anti-stigma related intervention among 10 African American churches in rural Alabama in an effort to decrease both individual and community stigma in these congregations.

“Currently, we have almost completed all the control churches and half of the standardized churches and are currently working on the intervention churches,” Foster says.

The intervention includes daylong HIV/AIDS seminars at the churches, after which changes will be measured in congregants’ HIV/AIDS knowledge, as well as HIV/AIDS-related stigma.