As a part of Project FAITHH, 12 predominately African-American rural churches were randomly assigned into 1 of 3 research arms. The first arm received the faith-based anti-stigma intervention. The second arm received standardized HIV training. The third arm (control) received HIV pamphlets but no intervention. From each participating church 20 congregation members were recruited to participate in the interventions, 80 from each arm, culminating in a total of 240. 199 participants were recruited. In addition to the main study, we also interviewed 41 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) to assess HIV knowledge, spirituality, and internalized stigma. Eleven pastors also completed a semi-structured qualitative interview as well as stigma and HIV knowledge surveys designed to assess attitudes and knowledge about stigma, and the presences of HIV/AIDS-related primary prevention activities in their churches.

The study involved the pilot testing of an adapted (Christian Council of Ghana) 8 module anti-stigma curriculum designed for African American churches in rural Alabama. Our program consisted of a conceptual framework that addressed HIV/AIDS stigma, fear, and denial (SFD). In this framework, SFD were targeted and decreased through community empowerment, cultural competence, skill development and social action. In addition, we increased HIV/AIDS knowledge in Pastors and church members. Additional goals of the study was to encourage church Pastors to increase their HIV prevention activities, and their interactions with people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

We measured HIV-related stigma held by individuals (individual-level) and their perception of stigma among other congregants (congregational-level). Analyses of pre- and post-assessments showed the anti-stigma intervention group reported a significant reduction in individual-level stigma compared with controls (adjusted p <.05). Findings suggest African-American churches may be poised to aid HIV stigma reduction efforts.