The first major research into attitudes to HIV and AIDS in British churches was carried out by CHAA in conjunction with Christian Research with the findings launched in June 2007. Contact CHAA for a copy of the report at £2 plus post and package.
Below is a summary of the findings.
Summary of Survey results
A survey sponsored by the Christian HIV/AIDS Alliance and carried out by Christian Research in 2006/7 among Protestant churches in the British Isles of which almost 50% were Anglican, 37% Evangelical and 91% had a predominantly white ethnic mix of congregation.
HIV and AIDS are seen by churches as a major threat to the world ranking 4th in priority in global concerns after Poverty, Global Warming and Terrorism.
Most church ministers would not turn to Christian charities in the UK for help in dealing with practical HIV and AIDS issues with over 80% turning to a secular health professional and less than half turning to a Christian charity. Even less (1/3rd) would turn to their denomination.
Only half of ministers would turn to a Christian charity and less than a fifth to their denomination for help when organising a church service to raise awareness.
When asked to name Christian charities that could provide support almost 100 were named. The top three were Christian Aid, Tearfund and Mildmay with CHAA ranked tenth.
There is a lot of ignorance of AIDS charities with almost half of ministers unable to name a charity that could provide resources.
Transmission of HIV and AIDS
Compared with a recent MORI poll, churchgoers awareness of HIV transmission was considerably better than the general population.
Churchgoers showed a confidence in their understanding of the transmission of HIV though this is sometimes misplaced.
Churchgoers feel well informed about transmission though 2/3 did not know the true extent of HIV prevalence globally, and ¾ didn't know its extent in the UK.
Nearly 2/3rds of church ministers surveyed identify see HIV and AIDS as a priority for which to raise funds and increase awareness.
2/3rds of Churches bring the issue into church services although only 1/3rd are involved in World AIDS Day
Only 10% of ministers have direct involvement dropping to 5% for congregational members.
Nearly 80% of ministers cited too many competing priorities as barriers to their greater engagement on the issue of AIDS, while 2/3rds claimed a lack of awareness in the congregation.
Most church ministers think there are suitable resources to inspire people, and that UK agencies have raised its profile.
Stigma and Discrimination
Churches disagree on the extent of prejudice against HIV and AIDS infected people. 20% of predominantly white church members think there is prejudice whilst this number rises threefold in congregations whose primary ethnicity is Black.
89% of people in churches do not agree that HIV and AIDS is God's judgement on sinful people.
The majority of churchgoers agree that there is a great deal of stigma around HIV and AIDS in the UK although this drops significantly for those aged under 25.
Attitudes to HIV and AIDS in churches do not differ significantly from the general public's view.
Global response of UK churches to HIV and AIDS
There is a great deal of concern about the adequacy of the UK church's response to HIV and AIDS with 84% of ministers feeling that their response was not adequate. They, together with their congregations, felt more should and could be done.
There is a great deal of interest in churches about the issue with nearly ½ of churchgoers wanting to know more.
Over a third of churchgoers would like to hear from an HIV positive person.
Around 1/3rd of churchgoers want their church to take more direct interest, need to know where to go for resources and are looking for ways to get more directly involved in the issue of HIV and AIDS.
Only a tiny proportion of churchgoers would not consider further engagement with this issue.
Protestant Theological seminaries across all denominations were consulted.
Only 9% thought HIV and AIDS was an issue their students needed to know about.
Around half of colleges did not teach specifically about the subject, with only 20% having the issue on the mainstream curriculum.
Just under half of colleges felt their emphasis was too little with 59% thinking it was about right.
Most colleges teach from a pastoral or theological perspective and leave students to go to outside organisations for more information about HIV and AIDS.