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Asian immigrants in NYC not receiving HIV education at religious institutions

ian community, Chin and colleagues found, and most respondents said that HIV prevalence was relatively low or nonexistent in their respective communities. Others felt the community would be too uncomfortable discussing HIV in a religious setting, largely because Asians generally consider sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, and drug use to be taboo subjects and "inappropriate" to discuss in a religious setting. Still other leaders hold their own stigmatizing attitudes about HIV and did not want to get involved for that reason.

Some respondents surveyed said they feared they would contract HIV if they became active in HIV prevention and education. In fact, some said they believe that HIV can be contracted by sharing soap or a drinking glass with an HIV-positive person or through casual contact. Other leaders feared they would be shunned in their communities if they offered HIV education or helped HIV-positive people, researchers found. Furthermore, some leaders felt it unnecessary to become involved in HIV education because their worshipers are protected by religious teachings of moral restraint and abstinence.

Even though most religious leaders and members expressed little interest in becoming involved in HIV-related work, many acknowledged such work would be consistent with their traditions of compassion and community service, and some leaders embraced the idea of involvement in HIV prevention education so long as their basic message could be that non-marital and homosexual sex are absolutely forbidden. These religious institutions are awash in "the tension between morality and compassion," Chin explained. Almost all of those interviewed agreed that it is important for the institutions to play a role in promoting general health in the community, though not to address HIV specifically. Their involvement could have a tremendous impact on preserving and protecting the health of New York City's Asian immigrants and those with whom they come in
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Source:New York Academy of Medicine


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