African American Women's Construction of Religio-Social Identity in Relation to HIV and AIDS translation missing: zh.hyrax.visibility.files_restricted.text

Fuller, Tyler (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/nk322f50n?locale=zh
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Abstract

HIV and AIDS disproportionately affect African American communities; particularly women and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM). Seeking to address this public health professionals have implemented HIV and AIDS education and prevention interventions within African American churches because of their importance in their communities. While socio-behavioral research has examined a variety of aspects concerning these interventions, little attention has been given to the narratives that African American churches use to understand HIV and AIDS and construct religio-social identity in the context of the epidemics. Thus, this study utilizes collective memory theory to examine narratives that female African American Christians recall when constructing their identity in relation to HIV and AIDS. Grounded theory guided data analysis of 93 interviews with leaders and members of 20 African American churches in Atlanta, GA, that were gathered as part of a larger HIV prevention intervention study. Diverse teams coded interviews and codes with Cohen’s kappa <0.8 were coded to agreement. Analysis of inductive narratives and references of Earvin “Magic” Johnson and men who are on the “down low” (men who are publicly heterosexual but engage in secret homosexual activity) suggest that narratives of men on the down low are used within African American churches to construct a religio-social identity in relation to HIV and AIDS. Magic Johnson’s public disclosure of his HIV status helped some participants understand that HIV was not a “death sentence,” but it did not contain all the theoretical constructs to be a social identity forming narrative. Inversely, the story of men on the down low articulates the pain of being diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, identifies down low men as responsible for women’s pain, and thus African American women as victims. The narrative is also relatable to a wider community of African American women. Theological beliefs about the unacceptability of male-to-male sexual activity appear to aid in constructing this narrative. This analysis suggests that African American communities utilize narratives of men on the down low to understand HIV incidence and prevalence among women and lessen the social and theological culpability of women.

Table of Contents

Introduction ........................................................................................................................1

Chapter 1: HIV and AIDS in African American Communities and Churches ..............................6

HIV and AIDS Interventions in African American Churches ............................................... 9

African American Communities and the HIV and AIDS Epidemics..................................... 12

The Social Construction of HIV and AIDS ....................................................................... 15

Research Aim and Question of this Study ....................................................................... 19

Chapter 2: Utilizing Collective Memory to Examine Narratives of HIV and AIDS in African American Churches .. 21

Theoretical Paradigm of this Study ................................................................................ 22

Individual and Collective Memory ..............................................................................23

The Fantastic Hegemonic Imagination and Countermemory ........................................24

Social Trauma and Cultural Narratives ........................................................................27

Methods Utilized in this Study ....................................................................................... 31

Selection of Participants ............................................................................................32

Qualitative Data Collection Methods ...........................................................................32

Analysis of Qualitative Interviews ...............................................................................33

Participant Demographics ..........................................................................................34

Chapter 3: Narratives of HIV and AIDS in African American Churches ...................................36

Understandings of HIV and AIDS ................................................................................... 36

HIV and AIDS as a Death Sentence ..............................................................................36

African Americans Can Be Affected Too .......................................................................38

Magic Johnson’s Public Disclosure of His HIV Status......................................................... 38

No Longer a Death Sentence .......................................................................................38

Public Conversations ..................................................................................................40

Down Low Men Transmitting HIV to African American Women ........................................ 42

GBMSM and MTMSA: What is the Linkage? .................................................................43

Risky Behaviors and Non-Disclosure ...........................................................................43

Who in Your Community is Most Affected by HIV and AIDS? .........................................45

Men on the Down Low and Women as Most Affected by HIV .........................................46

Acceptable and Unacceptable HIV Acquisition .............................................................47

MTMSA and Homosexuality in African American Churches ............................................. 48

Church Dogma, MTMSA, and GBMSM .........................................................................48

Discordance Between Dogma and Perceptions ..............................................................49

Church Leadership and GBMSM ..................................................................................50

Perceptions of GBMSM: A Generational Gap ................................................................51

The Place of GBMSM in the Black Church ....................................................................51

Identifying GBMSM in African American Churches ......................................................53

Summary of Results ...................................................................................................... 54

Chapter 4: The Spiral of Signification of HIV and AIDS in African American Churches ............57

Examining Magic Johnson’s Public Disclosure of His HIV Status as a Spiral of Signification . 57

Articulating the Pain of the Event ...............................................................................58

Identifying the Victims and Social Actors ....................................................................59

Relating the Narrative to Its Audience ........................................................................60

How Context Informs Responsibility ...........................................................................62

Summarizing the spiral ..............................................................................................63

Examining MTMSA and Homosexuality in African American Churches and Narratives of Down Low Men Transmitting HIV to African American Women .. 64

Articulating the Pain of the Event ...............................................................................64

Identifying the Victims and Social Actors ....................................................................69

Relating the Narrative to Its Audience .........................................................................71

How Context Informs Responsibility ............................................................................72

Summarizing the Spiral ..............................................................................................76

Conclusion: Religio-Social Identity in Relation to HIV and AIDS ............................................77

Implications of this Study for Health Education ................................................................80

Limitations of this Study .................................................................................................81

Concluding Summary .....................................................................................................82

Bibliography ......................................................................................................................83

Appendix A: Participant Pseudonyms and Demographic Characteristics ................................89

Table of Figures and Tables

Figure 1. New HIV Diagnoses in the US for the Most-Affected Subpopulations, 2017 ............... 7

Figure 2. The Spiral of Signification and Creating a Collective Narrative of Trauma ............... 30

Table 1. Codes Utilized in Analysis ..................................................................................... 33

Table 2. Group Demographic Characteristics of Study Participants ....................................... 34

Table 3. Individual Demographic Characteristics of Quoted Participants ............................... 89

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