Introduction The African American church has recently embraced a non-traditional venues perspective by incorporating HIV testing into the formal support services provided to the community. Mental health related indicators such as anxiety and stress are often associated with a lack of HIV testing. Social support from individuals and institutions within the African American community may have an important role in reducing stress and anxiety associated with HIV testing.
Methods In this cross-sectional survey based study, we surveyed and compared the responses of the congregants from two churches which offered testing and two which did not (n=177). Data were analysed with descriptive statistics, Chi-square test and multivariate logistic regression
Results We found that in churches without HIV testing anxiety was significantly higher (OR=4.60, p<0.001; 95% CI: 2.03, 10.41) as was levels of stress (OR=6.87, p<0.001; 95% CI: 2.69, 17.56) after controlling for gender and employment status.
Conclusion These results have implications for the important role that African American churches could have in not only offering HIV testing but in reducing associated levels of stress and anxiety. They also suggest that churches willing to incorporate HIV risk reduction programs and interventions may have more profound impacts on the mental health of at risk populations.