Addressing the Role of Faith and Spirituality

The United States has wide geographic and racial disparities in human immunodeficiency (HIV) outcomes. Nearly half of HIV infections in the United States are concentrated among African Americans, and over half of new HIV infections occur in the South. African Americans have poorer outcomes in the entire continua of HIV and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) care.

Complex social, structural, and behavioral factors contribute to our nation’s alarming racial disparities in HIV infection, particularly in the Deep South. Despite the importance of faith, spirituality and religious practice in the lives of many African Americans, there has been little scientific investment exploring how African Americans’ religious participation, faith and spirituality may impact our nation’s HIV epidemic. A team of researchers, including Dr. Robin Lanzi, from the Department of Health Behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, collaborated to investigate this impact.

This article summarizes the state of the science on this critical issue. The authors also identify opportunities for new scholarship on how faith, spirituality, and religious participation may impact HIV care continuum outcomes in the South and call for greater federal research investment on these issues.

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