Hispanic Religious Leaders, Congregations Could Help Raise HIV/AIDS Awareness, Prevention, Report Says
Hispanic ministers and their congregations can play an active role in raising HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention in the Hispanic community, according to a report released by Esperanza and the Center for the Study of Latino Religion at the University of Notre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies, Catholic News Service reports.
The report -- co-authored by Edwin Hernandez, a research fellow at the center, and titled "Answering the Call: How Latino Churches Can Respond to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic" -- is based on a study that examined Hispanic Catholic, Protestant, evangelical and Pentecostal congregations in the Chicago area. The study surveyed Hispanic ministers about their knowledge of HIV/AIDS, how much interaction they had with those affected and the level at which they engaged their congregation on the issue, such as inviting an HIV/AIDS specialist to speak to their congregation or allowing groups to meet in the church to hold discussions.
The report found that 86% of those surveyed knew someone with HIV/AIDS and that most wanted their congregation to participate in awareness efforts. The report recommended that more ministers receive HIV/AIDS training, as those with training were more likely to engage their congregations in HIV/AIDS issues.
"The study clearly shows that there is a role that parishes can play," Hernandez said, adding, "And that role involves preventative efforts, educating parishioners about the dangers, about risks." He said the center hopes the report "opens up conversation from the clergy, creates awareness from them, [and] sort of demystifies the whole topic in a way that people become more comfortable" (Riely, Catholic News Service, 7/11).
The report is available online. Note: You need Adobe Acrobat to view this report.