In API immigrant communities, where language and cultural barriers are persistent, religious institutions play an essential role in providing emotional and social support, social services, information, and connections to employment. Their multi-faceted role of being providers of services and arbiters of values places them in a unique position to challenge misinformation about HIV/AIDS, or alternatively to promote continued silence and stigmatization in API communities.
This presentation will explore Chinese immigrant religious institutions’ response to HIV/AIDS and the potential for government and other nonprofit organizations to partner with them on HIV prevention, support and stigma-reduction activities. Religious institutions’ HIV/AIDS engagement also acts as a lens for viewing community institutions’ roles in preserving culture and managing cultural change in response to new realities in the receiving country. Being in an alien environment increases religious institutions’ sense of urgency about preserving cultural norms and traditions while the day-to-day needs and realities of members encourage religious institutions to change in ways that allow them to be most responsive to those needs.
The presentation will draw on data collected to-date in our study of religious institutions in the Chinese immigrant community in New York City (NYC), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH Grant Number R01HD054303). Data sources include a census of Chinese immigrant religious institutions in New York City, a survey of a sample of these institutions, and qualitative interviews with leaders of these institutions.