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African American Mpowerment Project: HIV Prevention for Young MSM. Susan Kegeles, CAPS Greg Rebchook, CAPS Michael Foster, CAPS Roosevelt Mosby, SMAAC (Oakland) Elder Claude Bowen, MAP/Unity Fellowship Church (LA) Phill Wilson, Black AIDS Institute (LA). The Mpowerment Project (MP).

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African american mpowerment project hiv prevention for young msm

African American Mpowerment Project: HIV Prevention for Young MSM

Susan Kegeles, CAPS

Greg Rebchook, CAPS

Michael Foster, CAPS

Roosevelt Mosby, SMAAC (Oakland)

Elder Claude Bowen, MAP/Unity Fellowship Church (LA)

Phill Wilson, Black AIDS Institute (LA)

The mpowerment project mp
The Mpowerment Project (MP)

  • Demonstrated effectiveness

    • Listed in CDC Compendium of HIV prevention interventions with evidence of effectiveness

    • Scientifically tested in several communities

    • Communities were primarily white and Latino/Hispanic

  • Community-level project with multiple components

  • Creates healthy community

  • Promotes supportive friendship networks

  • Disseminates a norm of safer sex throughout the community

Appropriate hiv prevention interventions for ybmsm are necessary
Appropriate HIV prevention interventions for YBMSM are necessary

  • Only 1 intervention for Black MSM men has been developed and rigorously tested (Peterson 1996)

  • New community-level interventions that address multiple issues through a variety of channels and activities are needed

  • MP has not reached YBMSM before; clearly needs to be translated to meet their needs

We are adapting and pilot testing mp with young black msm
We are adapting and pilot-testing MP with young black MSM

  • Community collaborative research is necessary

  • 3 African American CBOs and CAPS are partnering

Goals of translation project
Goals of Translation Project

  • Determine how to modify the Mpowerment Project for YBMSM, ages 18-30 (Phase I)

  • Develop the modified Project (Phase II)

  • Implement the modified Project for 12 months (Phase III)

    • Evaluate success of the translation process

    • Identify organizational, setting, researcher, and population characteristics that impede or facilitate implementation

Phase i formative research to modify mp
Phase I: Formative Research to Modify MP

  • Boards of Cultural Experts (BOCEs)

    • N=21, older men, all “MSM”, identities varied (gay, SGL, het)

    • 1 Board each in LA & Oakland area

    • 10-11 members each

    • Knowledgeable and thoughtful about the target population

    • Received $500 for participation

    • One 2-day training and 8 Board meetings (4 in Oakland, 4 in LA)

  • Focus Groups with YBMSM (18-29 year olds)

    • N=34

    • 6 groups of 8-10 men (4 in LA, 2 in Oakland, additional groups will be held in Oakland)

    • Participants received $50

  • Analyzed themes that arose in various groups

African american mpowerment project hiv prevention for young msm

Privacy Concerns

Whole-man approach

Cultural appropriateness of M-groups

Diverse sexual identities

HIV testing


Lack of role models

More HIV+ men


Dual identity/Internalized Oppression

Issues that emerged

African american mpowerment project hiv prevention for young msm

Creating young black gay/SGL community

HIV is just one of many issues


Class distinctions

Treatment optimism

Sexual abuse

Racism in gay community


Inter-generational sex

Drug use

Black institutions and expectations



Other key issues that emerged

Internalized oppression
Internalized Oppression

  • YBMSM are an oppressed minority within a stigmatized minority

    • Many YBMSM internalize homophobic messages from the black community and internalize racist messages from the larger society

    • Negative consequences result in how regard & care for self & partners

  • How to modify MP:

    • Emphasize pride in being African American & pride in same sex attractions

    • Adapt existing M-group to focus on these issues and/or develop new group

Emphasize whole man
Emphasize Whole-man

  • YBMSM do not want to be reduced to their sexual activities, sexual desires

  • Recognize that their identity includes family, spirituality, community, history…

  • They face difficult issues:

    • Discrimination

    • Biased criminal justice and socioeconomic systems

    • Institutional and overt acts of racism

    • Fatalism, hopelessness, and loss of control

    • An unwelcoming and unsupportive “mainstream” gay community

  • How to modify MP:

    • address multiple facets of becoming a fully functioning adult man

      • Wellness, exercise, connection to spirituality

      • Job and life-skills training, resume writing, interviewing, finances, banking, housing, literacy

Diverse sexual identities
Diverse Sexual Identities

  • YBMSM have a variety of sexual identities & many are reluctant to join a “gay” project

  • Many YBMSM have sex with women

  • However, many black MSM do have a strong gay identity and are at risk for HIV

  • How to modify MP:

    • Keep project as welcoming as possible for gay/SGL-identified men and men who don’t self-label based on their sexual activities

    • Avoid the term gay

    • Primarily design the project for men with some sense of identity around their same-sex desire or attraction

    • Use more subtle language and be more ambiguous in visual imagines and words than previous projects

    • Modify publicity of project, activities, groups

Lack of adult male role models
Lack of Adult Male Role Models

  • Many YBMSM have not had adult men in their lives

  • No vision about what an older BMSM’s life is like

  • BOCEs and focus groups raised mentoring as an important issue

  • How to modify MP:

    • Change CAB - members as mentors

    • Train mentors in work

    • Create safe venues for mentors to socialize with YBMSM

      • Seminars, panel discussions and other forums for YBMSM to learn from the mentors

Hiv testing treatment issues
HIV Testing & Treatment Issues

  • High seroprevalence rates

  • Increased emphasis on getting HIV+ men to know serostatus & obtain treatment

  • How to modify MP:

    • Not focused on at all in MP

    • Develop messages that YBMSM can use to encourage each other to get tested & feel okay about treatments

    • Important to destigmatize HIV+ men

    • Enhance referrals to HIV testing sites where YBMSM will feel welcome

Changing m groups
Changing M-groups

  • Issues in current M-groups are relevant & important to YBMSM - but insufficient

  • YBMSM dislike current format of teaching (“pedagogy”)

    • must revise M-groups

    • Will conduct additional Focus Groups

  • More culturally relevant & appropriate exercises (eg, music, affirmations, spoken word)

    • Create safety so sharing can be less superficial

    • Increase variety to allow more role-playing with different kind of sexual partners

  • Expand beyond 1 session - yet balance with how many sessions young men are willing to attend

  • Address “whole-man” issues & empowerment/internalized oppression

Church religiosity spirituality

  • Frequently mentioned

  • Mentioned by those who feel alienated from the church and those who still participate in it

  • A need exists for YBMSM to discuss how religion affects them

  • How to modify MP:

    • Goals:

      • Give people options for spirituality

      • Help men find peace with their spirituality & sexuality

    • Panels, discussion groups, etc.

Phase iii implement project for ybmsm
Phase III: Implement Project for YBMSM

  • Each community organization will run the project

    • 12 months of implementation

    • 2 programs in LA operated jointly; 1 program in Oakland

  • Researchers provide on-going support

    • Materials (training manuals, videos, facilitator guides)

    • Trainings (initial 3-day; on-site follow up)

    • On-going technical assistance (via phone, e-mail) with constant feedback about evaluation results

    • On-line services (website, online materials, Listserv, chat room)

Translation research challenges

When we really asked the community for ideas about how to change the intervention - to “deconstruct the intervention” - the scope & depth and scope of their comments were substantial

Risk behavior among YBMSM occurs in a very different cultural, economic, & social context from the original communities

Modifying the intervention is not just a matter of adjusting the project for a slight cultural “nuance”

Translation Research Challenges

Challenges continued

Re-designing the intervention requires developing new components& considerable re-framing of current components

Phase II - developing adapted intervention - is time-consuming and requires a great deal of pilot-testing, careful evaluation, trial and error, re-designing, and re-implementing - far more than we had anticipated

Challenges Continued…

Challenges continued1
Challenges Continued… components& considerable re-framing of current components

  • When is a new efficacy study required?

  • Ultimately, a new efficacy study seems needed when new Core Elements are required, when existing Core Elements are significantly modified from original intervention, & when intervention is conducted in very different context - hope to do this in NIH-funded study eventually

  • First goal is to learn if the modified Project is acceptable to the new target population (this study)