People living with HIV/AIDS have been targets of stigma since the beginning of the pandemic. Even though HIV/AIDS has evolved from an acute, fatal disease to a chronic, treatable one, stigma continues to be a problem and is one reason that people are reluctant to seek testing and treatment. Stigmatization leads to feelings of shame, guilt, self-loathing and depression and results in low self-esteem and decreased social interactions. HIV/AIDS related stigma has been implicated in rejection by family members and friends, loss of employment, and housing evictions. Therefore, it is easy to see how stigma is contributing to the expansion of the epidemic.

Project FAITHH Mission

Project FAITHH aimed to decrease HIV/AIDS related stigma in rural Alabama by implementing a faith-based HIV/AIDS anti-stigma curriculum among African American congregations in order to decrease stigma individually and congregationally.

We accomplished this goal through the pilot testing of an adapted 7 week 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, as well as increased their HIV prevention activities, and their interactions with people living with HIV/AIDS.