Religion and HIV diagnosis among Africans living in London
Article first published online: 24 JUN 2012
© 2012 British HIV Association
Volume 13, Issue 10, pages 617–622, November 2012
How to Cite
Fakoya, I., Johnson, A., Fenton, K., Anderson, J., Nwokolo, N., Sullivan, A., Munday, P. and Burns, F. (2012), Religion and HIV diagnosis among Africans living in London. HIV Medicine, 13: 617–622. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1293.2012.01031.x
- Issue published online: 11 OCT 2012
- Article first published online: 24 JUN 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 1 MAY 2012
The aim of the paper was to describe the association of religion with HIV outcomes in newly diagnosed Africans living in London.
A survey of newly diagnosed HIV-positive Africans attending 15 HIV treatment centres across London was carried out between April 2004 and February 2006. Confidential self-completed questionnaires were used, linked to clinical records. Bivariate analyses were conducted to ascertain whether religious beliefs were associated with late diagnosis, antiretroviral therapy, and immunological and virological outcome 6 months post diagnosis.
A total of 246 Black Africans were eligible and included in the analysis: 62.6% were women, and the median age was 34 years. The median CD4 count at diagnosis was 194 cells/μL (range 0–1334 cells/μL) and 75.6% presented late, as defined as a CD4 count < 350 cells/μL. Most participants were religious: non-Roman Catholic Christians (55.7%), Roman Catholics (35.2%) and Muslims (6.1%). Only 1.2% stated that they did not have a religion. Participants who attended religious services at least monthly were more likely to believe that ‘faith alone can cure HIV‘ than those who attended less frequently (37.7% vs. 15.0%; P = 0.002). A small proportion (5.2%) believed that taking antiretroviral therapy implied a lack of faith in God. Bivariate analysis found no relationship between religiousness (as measured using frequency of attendance at religious services and religious attitudes or beliefs) and late diagnosis, changes in CD4 count/viral load 6 months post diagnosis, or initiation of antiretroviral therapy.
Strong religious beliefs about faith and healing are unlikely to act as a barrier to accessing HIV testing or antiretroviral treatment for Black Africans living in London.