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HIV Testing in African American Churches

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This K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award will provide advanced training for the candidate to establish an independent research program focused on HIV prevention and screening in underserved communities. The qualitative and quantitative studies proposed here focus on HIV testing, as 50% of newly diagnosed HIV cases are estimated to be caused by individuals who are unaware of their HIV+ serostatus. African Americans who are unaware of their HIV+ status likely contribute to the disproportionately high observed rates of HIV in this population. Given their reach and capacity, African American churches are ideal settings to recruit and retain research participants as well as impact community norms related to HIV testing. The primary aim of the proposed study is to develop and pilot test the feasibility of a church-based intervention to promote HIV testing among African American church members and community members receiving church outreach services between the ages of 18 to 64. We will use a 2-arm design with four churches (N = 400) to test a culturally and religiously tailored intervention against a standard non-tailored information intervention on HIV testing rates at 6 and 12 months. Intervention components are based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), an empirically-validated behavioral change strategy commonly used in health screening research. Delivery of intervention components will be conducted using an Ecological Model widely utilized in African American church-based research studies. This model combined with the TBP model, provides an ecologically-expanded TBP (eTPB) framework for developing and delivering the intervention's components through the multiple levels (e.g., church-wide, ministry groups, individual) of the church setting. Prior to the pilot study, we will conduct focus groups with African American church and church-affiliated community members to elicit information on facilitators and barriers and eTBP factors (attitudes/beliefs, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control) related to receipt of church-based HIV testing in order to guide the development of the pilot study intervention. Feasibility of the intervention will be assessed using post-study interviews with participating church leaders, documentation of intervention components implemented by churches, and study completion rates. A Community Advisory Board will assist in providing guidance in all phases of development and implementation of the focus group and pilot studies.
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