Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 16 Issue 6 (November/December 2006), Pages 411-503

Church leaders confront HIV/AIDS and stigma: a case study from Tanzania (pages 492-497)

Abstract

HIV/AIDS stigma continues to be a major obstacle to prevention and care interventions in Sub‐Saharan Africa. Faith‐based organizations (FBOs) have been shown to both foster HIV stigma as well as mitigate it. The present case study with 15 male and female Tanzanian church leaders emerged from a participatory evaluation workshop to assess their HIV health promoting activities following a series of HIV/AIDS and reproductive health training sessions. The workshop allowed participants to define root social causes of HIV underlying stigma and revealed the lack of a language to talk about stigma. Many participants in the discussions and focus groups had moved from positions of silence and condemnation to one of teaching about HIV/AIDS. Only 10 of the participants actively did some form of HIV education; they told how their own actions influenced their church membership's attitude towards HIV. However, others faced opposition from senior pastors. The case study suggests that narratives about HIV work within the church community create opportunities for reflection and compassion. We need further research on the role of different types of religious leaders in their institutions and the opportunities for diffusion and structural change. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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