Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mpowerment training: Welcome to the Bay Area.

Welcome to the bay area. Here is a list of things to do above-and-beyond the Mpowerment training.


  • The Castro 
  • San Francisco
  • Weather check
  • Mission Bay (where the Mpowerment training takes place).

The Castro.

The GLBT History Historical Society collects, preserves and interprets the history of GLBT people, and the communities that support them. Located in San Francisco's Castro District, The GLBT History Museum is the first full-scale, stand-alone museum of its kind in the United States.

'Out of the Bars and into the Streets.' An audio-walking tour about Harvey Milk and the rise of gay power.  Download the tour map and audio guide here.

Check out a movie at the historic Castro Theater. 

Castro district, neighborhood guide: My Castro

San Francisco.

'The best way to see San Francisco is by bike.' Consider taking a bike tour with Daniel and Tim. Streets of San Francisco Bicycle Tours.

San Francisco bucket list: Things to do in SF before you die. YES on 33,34, 58 and 60!

The history of San Francisco landmarks that no one told you

Weather check
Packing? San Francisco five day weather forecast.
It is (usually) cooler and (often) windy. Check to see if you will need a wind-breaker / jacket and a umbrella for showers.  SF average rain and temperatures.

The Mpowerment training is being held at:
Mission Hall - UCSF Mission Bay
550 16th St, Room 1401/2
San Francisco, CA 94158
You will need to show your ID to security in the lobby. Security will have a list of training attendees. 
Mission Hall - UCSF Mission Bay

Mission Hall - UCSF Mission Bay
UCSF Mission Bay Campus Map
The Ramp is only a seven minute walk from Mission Hall. Originally a bait shop in the '50s, The Ramp has morphed into a fun and casual restaurant. A local-favorite. (walking-directions).

You may want to begin exercises your legs for the hills.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Mpowerment Project+

The Mpowerment Project has been enhanced to help young MSM (YMSM) living with HIV to engage in the HIV treatment cascade. 


This blog summarizes the adaptations that UCSF’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, along with our community partners, have made to the original Mpowerment Project model to ensure that it addresses the needs of young gay, bisexual, and other MSM living with HIV, and continues to be a dynamic and effective community-level HIV prevention program for the entire young gay men’s community.  The National Institute of Mental Health is supporting this work. 

RECOMMENDED:  What is the Mpowerment Project?  Download Module 1: Overview.

Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project Training

The Mpowerment Project (MP) has been enhanced to help young gay, bisexual, and other MSM (YMSM) living with HIV to engage in the HIV care continuum. The Mpowerment Project+ (MP+) builds on the Mpowerment Project “model” to mobilize YMSM in the community to decrease psychosocial barriers (e.g., reducing HIV stigma) and increase psychosocial facilitators (e.g., increasing social support for engaging in care, increasing literacy about HIV treatment) to support YMSM living with HIV in order to increase their engagement in care. The MP model involves implementing the program’s original core elements for all YMSM regardless of HIV status, but for MP+ all the core elements have been adapted to also support engagement in care. In addition, three new core elements have been developed: the Positive Living Group and the Support Networks Group (both described below). Finally, we encourage the use of a Peer Navigator in the program. 

The overarching goal of the project is to build an empowered, cohesive, and mobilized YMSM community that supports each other about HIV prevention. MP+ does not solely focus on YMSM living with HIV for four reasons:

First, the social networks of YMSM who are living with HIV include both HIV-negative men as well as men living with HIV. Therefore, to maximize social support for engagement in HIV care and to reduce HIV stigma, it is necessary to mobilize peers, regardless of their HIV status. 

Second, concerns about HIV stigma dissuade many YMSM who are living with HIV from participating in a program if it is perceived as being solely for men who  are living with HIV. Therefore, MP+ weaves in information specific to men who are living with HIV throughout all of the intervention’s core elements and also targets the entire community of YMSM to support engagement in the HIV treatment cascade. 

Third, for YMSM men who are unaware of their HIV infection, or who are HIV-negative, HIV prevention messages are diffused throughout the community to create positive social norms and increase social support to promote regular HIV testing, reduce unprotected sex, and increase awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Diagnosis of HIV infection is the first step of the HIV treatment cascade. 

The fourth reason is that the project space is a social environment for YMSM living with HIV to disclose their status to others and receive emotional, informational, and practical support from other YMSM regardless of their HIV status.

RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project?  Download Module 1: Overview.

Holatinos, Mpowerment New York City NY
The MP+ is
  • Focused on social change (e.g., changes social norms, increases social support), interpersonal change (e.g., addresses couples’ dynamics), structural change (e.g., provides a community center for men to gather and builds a supportive community, addresses the environment in which men live, provides condoms and lube at the project site and throughout the community through outreach), and increasing personal and community empowerment.
  • A combination prevention strategy – it focuses on individual, interpersonal, social, and structural issues, and links both a social/behavioral intervention approach with biomedical methods.
  • A community mobilization strategy, using community organizing methods.A social marketing approach. 
  • An approach that addresses social determinants of health (e.g., heterosexism, racism, low education levels, low SES, internalized oppression).
Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project Training

Adaptations to Existing MP Core Elements

The following sections describe how MP’s existing core elements have been adapted to focus on men living with HIV in order to support them to engage in care. Examples are provided. All of the core elements are adapted to focus on prevention with positives (PwP), internalized and externally expressed HIV stigma reduction, social support to engage in the HIV care continuum, social norms about engaging in the HIV care continuum, HIV treatment literacy, and critical analysis regarding reducing  transmission risk.

There are some activities that are exclusively for men living with HIV (the new groups and some social activities). It may be challenging to recruit men living with HIV to these activities early on in the project, until they begin to feel openly accepted at the project space, see the emphasis on confidentiality, and observe the anti-HIV stigma messaging that will be diffused in the community. But as trust is built, men living with HIV are more willing to attend project-sponsored activities designed specifically for them.

     Coordinators. Coordinators are trained in care, treatment, and adherence issues, as well as available local HIV-related resources. Besides having at minimum 1.5 FTE for MP (two or more FTE is far better), the additional components require an additional Coordinator. It is important to have a Coordinator who is living with HIV, is “out” about his HIV status, and is able to discuss issues about living with HIV from his own experience. 

     The Core Group (CG). The CG is the decision making body for MP+. It mobilizes men from the entire YMSM community and actively recruits YMSM from diverse social networks. In addition, priority is placed on recruiting some CG participants who are open about living with HIV and are comfortable discussing HIV-related issues. The CG analyzes the root causes for why some YMSM living with HIV do not fully engage in HIV care, and from those discussions they derive project-based solutions and carry out activities specifically about engaging in HIV care, why it is important to take HIV medications regularly if living with HIV, and the importance of getting tested regularly for HIV for persons who may be at risk. They also discuss how to reduce HIV stigma in the YMSM community, and the CG will enact the solutions they generate.

     M-groups. These are one-time, 3-hour skills building sessions for 10-12 YMSM that address the issue of HIV related stigma and emphasize that HIV treatment is highly effective in keeping people living with HIV healthy and virally suppressed. Myths about medications are dispelled (e.g., that they change the way a person looks, that they cannot be taken if the person is drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs). M-groups also discuss the importance of regular testing for HIV if sexually active, and information about the availability of PrEP and PEP for men who are HIV negative. In addition, participants in M-groups learn about and are motivated to conduct Informal Outreach with their friends, specifically about engaging in care if living with HIV and getting tested at least every 6 months if HIV negative.

     Informal outreach. This core element is about spreading messages to and supporting friends about HIV prevention, in which YMSM support their HIV-negative friends to get tested for HIV at least every six months, reduce their sexual risk behavior, consider using PrEP, and attend an M-group. Informal outreach to YMSM’s friends who are living with HIV, involves encouraging them to take their medications every day, see their healthcare provider at least twice per year, attend an M-group, and attend the Positive Living Group and the Support Network Group.  

     Project space. The space is a comfortable hang-out or drop-in location that is welcoming to all YMSM. It is a place where YMSM can relax and be themselves, easily obtain condoms and lube, obtain referrals including culturally sensitive HIV testing and treatment sites, and for local mental health (e.g., depression) services. YMSM can also receive materials about how to talk with healthcare providers in order to get their needs met. Posters are on display concerning tips for remembering to take medications every day, to remember not to make assumptions about others’ HIV status, and that the space is a “gossip-free” environment pertaining to others’ HIV status. There is also information about PrEP and PEP and where to obtain them. All such materials need to be created so that they are visually compelling, culturally appropriate, and appropriate for participants’ reading levels. 

     Project sponsored social events. Project sponsored events are meant to attract diverse YMSM to the project. The events target a range of issues that are important to all YMSM, and they also include content with an explicit focus on issues critical for those living with HIV. For example, weekly discussion groups can sometimes focus on coming out as gay and living with HIV, HIV stigma in the YMSM community, or on dating and relationships when someone is living with HIV. Community forums can focus on issues such as how to support friends living with HIV, spirituality, churches’ acceptance of YMSM in general and those living with HIV in particular, or treatment updates by HIV care providers. Some social events will be exclusively for men living with HIV, whereas other social events target all YMSM.  

     Outreach materials. Outreach materials distributed at project sponsored events and at community venues contain information about HIV prevention, the importance of engaging in HIV care, how to support friends living with HIV to engage in healthcare, and messages to decrease HIV stigma (e.g., reducing gossip about others’ HIV infection).

The Q Austin, Mpowerment Texas

Three Additional Core Elements for MP+

In addition to the previous core elements, in MP+ there are three new core elements that have been specifically created for YMSM living with HIV. 

     Positive Living Groups. Since young men living with HIV want to talk with and get support from other men who are also living with HIV, one-time, 3-hour meetings of 8 – 12 men living with HIV were created. The groups are semi-structured and incorporate discussion, games, and fun educational content to help facilitate information sharing and encourage social support. The group addresses literacy about why medications are important to take and the importance of seeing your healthcare provider at least twice a year, feelings about living with HIV and taking medications, how to obtain emotional, informational and practical support about fully engaging in HIV care (including referral and retention in care and adherence to HIV medications), dating and disclosure of HIV status to others, relationships and sex, and how to prepare for and get the most from visits with a medical provider. Confidentiality is stressed. 

     Support Network Groups. These groups bring together YMSM living with HIV and 1-3 of their close friends or family members for the purpose of building support for men living with HIV. The meetings are 2-hours long and, through a mix of role play and discussion, increase awareness around what it means to be virally suppressed, how to become virally suppressed (adherence to medications), and ways to support the men living with HIV to remain in care.

     MP+ Navigator (MPN). When MP+ Coordinators learn that participants who are living with HIV are not actively linked into care, the Coordinators will refer them to the MPN who, along with the Project Coordinator(s), will connect them with HIV treatment facilities and other services and help them develop ways to remind themselves to take their daily medications. MPN is not case management but does provide support, information, and referrals to case managers. MPN closely supports YMSM living with HIV to ensure that they link to and stay in care. Project sponsored activities encourage YMSM throughout the community to support their friends living with HIV to talk with a Coordinator or the MPN so that they receive services that will support them to link to, stay in, or re-engage in HIV healthcare and treatment, and to take their medications. 

Join us online.

Twitter / @mpcaps 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

3 important things to think about before implementing your Mpowerment Project

Before implementing a Project, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of thinking through the following: 

1) how to obtain adequate funding for the Project; 
2) what qualifications and characteristics are needed in the people who will be hired to run it; and 
3) what options exist in the community for a distinct Project space.

Our research has shown that organizations that strategize and plan ahead are much more effective at implementing the Mpowerment Project than organizations that do not.

RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project? Download Module 1: Mpowerment Overview for free here
United Black Ellument (U-BE), Mpowerment Dallas TX
Securing Adequate Funding

Implementing the Mpowerment Project requires substantially more resources than educational programs that deliver AIDS 101 talks, street outreach, or brochure distribution. If you plan to implement the Mpowerment Project, you need to have funding for at least one full time Coordinator, but it is better to have at least another half-time Coordinator (and our research shows that two full-time staff is by far preferable). And importantly, when we talk about time spent on the Mpowerment Project, it does not include time working on HIV testing and counseling

In addition, it is important to find a space to house the Project. Without a sufficient budget to support the expenses of staff and Project space, it will be difficult to implement the Mpowerment Project very effectively (Download sample Mpowerment Project expenses when you register for free at www.mpowerment.org).

RELATED3 important reasons for having a separate space for the Mpowerment Project

The Project’s goals are to reduce sexual risk behavior and increase knowledge of current HIV sero-status among young gay and bisexual men by developing a strong, healthy, empowered community of men who support each other in reducing their sexual risk behavior, in getting HIV testing, using condoms or obtaining PrEP getting into and/or maintaining their health-care if one is living with HIV as well as functioning successfully in the larger society where heterosexuality is the norm. With respect to implementing the Mpowerment Project, the agency’s objectives include recruiting, hiring, and supervising staff; securing and maintaining an adequate Project space; coordinating the Core Group; sponsoring effective Social Outreach activities; and diffusing norms of safer sex and testing throughout the entire young gay and bisexual men’s community. Considering the scope of Project objectives and activities, it should be clear why at least one full-time staff member is a necessity, and why two full-time staff members are preferable to implement the intervention successfully.

Click to enlarge

An agency needs to be creative and resourceful in generating adequate funding for the Project. Many, if not most, HIV Prevention Planning Councils have identified young gay/bisexual men as a high priority for prevention services. The Mpowerment Project is listed in the CDC’s Compendium of HIVPrevention Interventions with Evidence of Effectiveness, which includes programs shown to be effective through rigorous scientific evaluation. The Mpowerment Project is the only HIV prevention intervention that has been tested through rigorous research methods and has been shown to be effective in reducing unsafe sex among young gay/bisexual men. The CDC, which funds many HIV prevention efforts, strongly urges the implementation of programs that have been shown to be effective through research. Thus, referring to the Compendium will add considerable strength to any grant proposals you write. For the same reason, it makes sense to apply for funding to health departments, which are likely to be receptive to any program that research says works. Some local or national foundations may also be interested in funding part of or the entire Project. In addition, it may also be worthwhile to investigate other sources of funding for parts of the intervention, such as community foundation grants, local hospitals, or other local funding mechanisms. In addition, organizations sometimes obtain partial funding from their state health department, and supplement it (for example, for space) from a community grantor or through other fund-raising efforts.

It may not always be necessary to seek new funding sources if agencies are able and willing to reallocate existing funds by modifying current programming. Since the Mpowerment Project may meet the requirements of existing grants, contracts, or program objectives, if the organization already has funding for MSM or gay and bisexual men’s programming, it may be worthwhile to discuss this possibility with the funder.

RELATEDFunding best practices, interview with a funder.

RELATED:  16 Steps for starting the Mpowerment Project in your community.

Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training


The implementing agency is responsible for advertising the Project Coordinator positions, and for hiring, training, and supervising these staff members. More than anything else, the success of the Mpowerment Project depends on recruiting and retaining talented and committed young men to coordinate the Project. Through our work with organizations implementing the Mpowerment Project, we have found that this may be the single most important ingredient that leads to success. Consequently, it is essential that the implementing agency invest sufficient time and energy into locating the right staff. Project Coordinators must be outgoing, sociable, comfortable talking to strangers and groups, and passionate about this new way of delivering HIV prevention to young gay and bisexual men. The Coordinators need to be very knowledgeable about the young MSM community, such as what are major segments of the young men’s community, where they hang out and their culture, and this is best achieved by being part of some young gay/bisexual men’s social networks.

Given the staff’s central importance in the Mpowerment Project, it is important that an agency not simply hire people who are already on staff to fill Coordinator positions without carefully considering if they are well qualified for this role. Our research has shown that these positions usually require individuals who are currently from and quite socially active within the MSM community. The characteristics listed above may or may not fit the description of staff who are already at an organization. If they do not have these qualities, a thorough search for suitable staff is imperative. More information about Coordinators’ roles and responsibilities can be found later in this module, as well as in Module 4: Coordinators. Module 4: Coordinators is a free download when you register at www.mpowerment.org 

RELATED: Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training

Follow the Q Austin, Mpowerment TX on twitter: @q_austin

Agency policies, attitudes, and environment

The implementing agency must be comfortable with three very basic concepts that are integral to the success of any Mpowerment Project. First, the agency must be comfortable letting the Core Group make decisions for the Project. This is an integral part of the program, since empowering the young gay/bisexual men’s community is central to the program’s purpose.

Second, the implementing agency must be comfortable working with young gay and bisexual men. Although this may sound obvious, in our research we have observed situations where the implementing agency behaved judgmentally towards young gay/bisexual men, and developed policies and procedures that reflected their discomfort. Third, self-defeating attitudes and beliefs held by staff at implementing agencies about HIV prevention with young gay and bisexual men, or about the Mpowerment Project itself is a major barrier to running a successful Mpowerment Project.

We have worked with many agencies who feel that young gay and bisexual men will never change their behavior, that the community is too apathetic to get involved, or that a community-mobilization approach to prevention will never succeed. We acknowledge that HIV prevention can be difficult and frustrating work, but negative beliefs make the work even harder, and they often become self-fulfilling prophecies by dooming a Project before it ever starts.

It may be necessary to change some agency policies in order to implement the Mpowerment Project effectively. As a prime example, agency management must understand that because much of the work of running the Mpowerment Project takes place outside of regular business hours, the Coordinators cannot work regular “nine-to-five” jobs.

In order to reach clients, a large portion of the work needs to be done in the evenings and on weekends. For this reason, management must be prepared to defend the need for Mpowerment Project staff to work these hours, should other agency staff question the absence of Coordinators during regular business hours. Many agencies have actually changed work-hour policies, as well as other policies that may hamper the ability for the Mpowerment Project to be implemented effectively.

MPowerment LI, Long Island New York, NY
Project Space

It is best to decide where the Mpowerment Project will be housed as early as possible in the planning process. Ideally, the space that is selected can suitably host a variety of Project activities, from small group gatherings to larger social events. If the chosen space is shared with others, it is important that the Mpowerment Project have sole use of the space on a frequent and recurring basis. Further, if a shared space cannot be customized to reflect the gay positive/sex positive nature of the Project, a different space should be found. During our research, we learned of Mpowerment Projects that shared space with other programs that balked at openly displaying posters, invitations, and other HIV prevention materials targeting gay/bisexual men. Since it is imperative to have such materials out and freely available to Project participants, these spaces did not work well. The issue of Project Space is discussed in greater detail in Module 6: Project Space.  Module 6 is a free download when you register at www.mpowerment.org

RELATED3 important reasons for having a separate space for the Mpowerment Project.

Join us. Attend the Mpowerment Project training
Read more in Module 3: Implementing Agency, a free download when you register at www.mpowerment.org 

The objectives of Module 3 are to familiarize you with the responsibilities and functions of the implementing agency, including: 

  1. the different types of agencies that host Mpowerment Projects;
  2. suggested guidelines for leadership;
  3. planning for the Mpowerment Project before implementation;
  4. funding issues;
  5. agency policies, attitudes, and environment;
  6. staff selection and training, including sample job descriptions and interview questions;
  7. project supervision; and
  8. creating and maintaining good community relations.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Elect this! | National Voter Registration Day. Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"2016 is a presidential election year, and we want every American to celebrate our nation's democracy by registering to vote and heading to the polls."


Scroll down to find:
Talking points
Rock-the-vote via MTV
VOTE! Posters for your Project Space
Social media resources
Read me - articles of interest  


Talking points
  • Every election, millions of American cannot cast a ballot because they do not know how to register or missed their local registration deadlines. National Voter Registration Day was created to combat this and make sure the American political process leaves no one behind.
  • National Voter Registration Day is the largest one-day effort of the year to register voters. It falls on the fourth (4th) Tuesday of September. This year, National Voter Registration Day is September 27, 2016.
  • In addition to the 2016 presidential race, countless number of state and federal elections will take place in November. This underscores the need to get registered now.
  • Registering to vote is easy. You can stare the process online at www.NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org or at hundreds of National Voter Registration Day events across the nation. 
  • In 2016, all 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives will be up for election. 32 of the 100 seats in the Senate are being contested. 12 state governors and 44 state legislatures are holding elections. This is one of the many reasons National Voter Registration Day is so important. On September 27, all Americans should make sure they are registered to vote.
  • We encourage every Mpowerment Project to get involved!   


     "Let's make history! Everyday, nearly 12,000 Americans turn 18. Millennials are over 80 million strong and growing, and we're the largest most diverse generation in our country's history. As the largest living generation, we have the power to define our future."  via Rock the Vote - MTV | Website  

      Elect this!  We have real issues. via MTV

Host your own 'Rock the Vote' event (download the MTV voter event toolkit).


VOTE promotional posters for your Project Space.  

Get out the vote. via Professional Association of Design


Social Media Resources

Facebook.  The NVRD Facebook page engages users by making everyone aware of resources and activities surrounding NVRD.

Twitter.  THE NVRD twitter engages partner organizations in conversations about NVRD. Use the hashtag #VoterRegistrationDay.

Youtube. How to vote in every state

Tweet me

Join us in Celebrating Democracy in America! National Voter Registration Day is 9/27. http://goo.gl/e07Li3 #VoterRegistrationDay

What’s #VoterRegistrationDay all about? Learn more at http://goo.gl/e07Li3

Have you moved in recent years? Make sure you’re registered to #vote at your new address! http://goo.gl/e07Li3 #VoterRegistrationDay

Register in September to #vote in November. National Voter Registration Day is 9/27! http://goo.gl/e07Li3 #VoterRegistrationDay 


Read me

United States Elections 2016 via Wikipedia.