The Impact of Religion in Relation to Stigma and Access to HIVServices for Key Populations in Kenya

by Rachel Margaret Jones

Institution: Emory University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Public health; Religion; Social research; key populations; religion; stigma; Kenya; faith-based organizations; HIV
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2064114
Full text PDF: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/rjz5f


Background: HIV prevalence among key populations - men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers (SW), and people who inject drugs (PWID) - represents a concentrated epidemic in Kenya. Faith-based organizations (FBOs) provide large amounts of HIV care and are a focus for capacity strengthening by PEPFAR. It is important, therefore, that their capacities to reach key populations are explored. Goal: To gauge the influence of religion on HIV support programs for, and in the lives of, key populations members, and to identify core elements of effective FBO work with key populations. Methods: In the summer of 2015, 18 in-depth interviews were conducted with FBO and community-based organization (CBO) staff. Further, 10 focus groups were conducted with members of key populations. A modified Delphi technique was used in the design and MAXQDA was used to identify themes. Results: FBOs saw religion as a foundation that could be used for the empowerment of key populations members. FBOs used strategies of interpreting religious scriptures, using a belief in the 'image of God' and capitalizing on various structures of organizations to reach the larger community. The elements identified that characterized effective FBO work with key populations included: Accepting all, providing psycho-social support, maintaining confidentiality, involving key populations members in the process, and being present in spaces key populations are. Community-based organizations saw religion as a potentially positive or negative force. Some believed services should be kept separate from religious interests, while others described how they blended faith with their work and strove to reduce stigma with religious leaders and communities. Many CBOs took a harm reduction approach as an alternative to religion. Key populations members themselves saw religion as positive and negative – many had their own religious beliefs/practices and saw the potentials for FBO work, while others expressed that trust in religion was difficult because of stigma. Recommendations: In order for key populations members to receive the care they need, participation and leadership from religious communities and organizations is critical. Service providers should consider ways to reach religious leaders to reduce stigma and connect key populations members to psycho-social support and HIV care. Advisors/Committee Members: Blevins, John (Thesis Advisor).