The proposed study takes an innovative, culturally congruent approach to HIV prevention by involving one of the most influential social structures in the African American community, African American churches. The proposed study forges a link between Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. During the past year, the study team has collaborated with church lay leaders and with leaders of the church Ministries to initiate development a faith-based HIV intervention. The study investigators propose to develop a faith-based HIV intervention that is adapted from the CDC-defined evidence based SISTA HIV intervention for young African American women, 18 - 29 years of age. 1,2 Middle age and older populations now represent the fastest growing group of individuals living with HIV. Unfortunately, middle age and older women are acquiring HIV at a higher rate than middle age and older men. Moreover, among mature women, African American women are disproportionately affected by HIV. Given the absence of evidence-based HIV interventions for this population, the proposed study seeks to design a faith-based HIV intervention for African American women, 40 - 60 years of age to reduce unprotected sexual intercourse. Eligible participants will be randomized to receive either the faith-based HIV intervention (n = 240) or a placebo controlled health promotion intervention (n = 240) and assessments will be conducted at baseline, 6 and 12- month follow up to evaluate intervention efficacy. For behavior change to be meaningful it must be sustained, thus, we also propose to train members of the Women's Ministry and Health Ministry to maintain the intervention.
This could be amongst the first faith-based HIV intervention for middle age and older African American women, a vulnerable population at risk of HIV. Dissemination of the HIV intervention to faith-based institutions has the potential to reach a population substantially impacted by the HIV epidemic.