The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $2.8 million grant to the New York Academy of Medicine to identify how religious organizations can participate in preventing the spread of HIV among Asians living in New York City.
Religious groups in the city have the potential to educate parishioners about prevention, as well as provide support and reduce stigma, but many do not, and some act counter-productively, experts say.
The five-year study will involve 21 local Chinese immigrant Christian groups and Buddhist organizations and will be aimed at Chinese and other Asian Pacific Islander immigrants.
While this population has a low incidence of HIV, new data show signs of sharp increases.
At the same time, language and cultural barriers, combined with high levels of stigma surrounding the disease, pose significant barriers to education and prevention efforts.
Researchers believe religious groups are in a position to stem or reverse recent trends.