Organized Religion and the Fight Against HIV/AIDS in the Black Community: The Role of the Black Church

  • Agatha N. Eke
  • Aisha L. Wilkes
  • Juarlyn Gaiter


Religious faith and practices have long been an important consideration in health and well-being. Historically, religious institutions including the Black Church (i.e., any predominately African American religious congregation) have had important influences on public health and the practice of medicine (Chatters, Levin, & Ellison, 1998; Giger, Appel, Davidhizar, & Davis, 2008; Koenig, 2000). Over the last two decades there has been a resurgence of interest in the relationship between religion and health (Chatters, 2000; Ellison & Levin, 1998), because research has documented a correlation between religion and morbidity and mortality (Levin, 2003). There are over 1,200 published empirical studies of which 75–90% shows a positive association between aspects of religious faith and indicators of health ­status and emotional well-being at the population level (Koenig, McCullough, & Larson, 2001). Some of the most methodologically sophisticated, rigorously evaluated studies with the largest scope of health outcomes have been epidemiological studies of African Americans (Levin, Chatters, & Taylor, 2005). Levin et al. note that this body of work termed the “epidemiology of religion” contains findings showing associations between expressions of religiousness and mental health, psychological well-being, healthy lifestyles, health care utilization and health related outcomes. This is critical literature, given the growing disparities in HIV/AIDS particularly among disadvantaged (economically deprived/medically underserved individuals) African Americans and other racial/ethnic groups. Consequently, ­public health professionals are paying close attention to the unique and important role that religious and faith-based organizations such as the Black Church can play in addressing these disparities.


Religious Leader Homeless Youth Religious Organization African American Community Religious Faith 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agatha N. Eke
    • 1
  • Aisha L. Wilkes
  • Juarlyn Gaiter
  1. 1.Division of HIV/AIDS PreventionCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlantaUSA

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