ILS report calls Latino churches key partner in fight against HIV/AIDS

Author: Arts and Letters


Latino churches are a key partner in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to a report recently released by the Center for the Study of Latino Religion (CSLR) in the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the nonprofit organization Esperanza.

“Answering the Call: How Latino Churches Can Respond to the HIV/AIDS Epidemic,” is the result of an intensive study of Latino congregations in Chicago.

The past two decades have seen a dramatic rise in HIV/AIDS infection rates in minority communities nationwide, and churches have been shown to help deter behaviors that put people at risk for HIV infection. Other studies have found that churches often are the only institutions that undocumented immigrants can access for help.

The report examines what Latino churches currently are doing to respond to the epidemic, and what congregational and leadership characteristics appear to contribute to such efforts.

“This study clearly shows that Latino congregations arewilling to be engaged and are engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention andsupport services, butthat there is a long way togo,” said Edwin I. Hernndez, co-author of the report and CSLR research fellow. “Many leaders lack information or are apprehensive to addresssensitive topics related to AIDS. The report shows that when clergy are trained, they then mobilize their congregations to start HIV/AIDs related services.”

The report found that Latino congregations are beginning to address the crisis. More than half of Latino churches in Chicago have engaged in some activity to addressHIV/AIDS and nearly a quarter are planning to start a related ministry in the near future.

The CSLR serves as a national center and clearinghouse for ecumenically focused social-scientific study of the U.S. Latino church, its leadership and the interaction between religion and community. Highlighting the ways in which religion strengthens and improves the quality of public life, the center examines the impact of religious beliefs, leaders, churches and faith-based organizations on Latino urban communities.

Founded in 1999, the ILS promotes understanding and appreciation of the social, cultural and religious life of U.S. Latinos by advancing research, expanding knowledge and strengthening community.

ILS publications are available on the Web at .

Esperanza is a faith-based, nonprofit organization committed to raising awareness and identifying resources that strengthen the Hispanic community.

Contact: Edwin I. Hernndez, 616-643-4737,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on July 02, 2007.