Monday, March 17, 2014

HIV testing done the Mpowerment way

Blending Mpowerment w/ Counseling, Testing & Referral (CTR)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requires that Counseling Testing and Referrals (CTR) be part of every Evidence-Based Intervention (EBI).  The Mpowerment Project is a useful intervention to promote HIV testing. From 2009 to 2012, testing was a core component at our Dallas TX Mpowerment demonstration project, United Black Ellument / U-BE

RESEARCH READ: Among young men who have sex with men (MSM) of color, participating in the the Mpowerment Project (MP) led to an increase in HIV testing and self-efficacy for safer sex after 3 and 6 months.  More herevia UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS)
RELATED:  What is the Mpowerment Project? Download Module 1: Mpowerment Overview.

United Black Ellument - Mpowerment Dallas TX 2013

This occurs often in implementation of MP: an agency having a coordinator work 20 hours a week on CTR and 20 on Mpowerment (MP). This was not a good idea. CTR can overwhelm MP responsibilities, especially if you only have one coordinator and limited staffing.
  • Have the person conducting testing not be a MP coordinator. Have other agency staff (or other collaborating health organizations) perform testing. This ensures the complete anonymity of the tester and client.
  • Having the coordinators be test counselors might be unavoidable, if so really think through the implications - be creative in separating the responsibilities of CTR and the coordinators. 
  • For example, it might be better to have set hours each week when testing is available. Offer testing “almost as an afterthought” to project events. While having a movie night say “oh and if you want to be tested, it’s offered free with our fabulous health department friends in the next room.” When you do offer testing, consider how you will ‘casually’ offer testing.
  • HIV testing and the project space - at all costs, avoid having the project space have the look or feel of being a counseling and testing space. 
  • We recommend that you separate the responsibilities of the MP coordinator and CTR testing within the agency as much as possible. At our Dallas project none of our coordinators are going to do testing, they are going to focus exclusively on community organizing. We are bringing in another agency to offer testing at some events (not at large events however).

Men On Monday via the Q Austin, Mpowerment TX

RELATED: How the Q Austin doubled their HIV testing numbers via  Statesman social media awards 2014 (video). 

MP encourages peers to talk to their friends about the importance of knowing your HIV status by getting tested regularly, and getting on treatment if positive. 

Young men are taught to have these conversations in the three-hour small groups called 'M-Groups'. Young men listen to each other and discuss a wide variety of issues. It’s important that they have the opportunity to talk with each other about important issues such as HIV testing, sex, and treatment options. The Project Space also has referral information on HIV testing sites and services, and the staff of most MPs are trained to provide HIV testing and counseling for their MP membership.

Share these testing resources:
Testing makes us stronger - for gay Men of Color 
My reasons - for Latino gay men

MpowerOly - Mpowerment Olympia 2005-2011
Read more about the Mpowerment Project in the manual. The manual is a free download when you register at You can also download Module 1: Overview here.  Core Group and volunteers are essential Core Elements of the Mpowerment Project. 

Q Austin Mpowerment Austin TX 2015
Check out more of the The Q Austin, Mpowerment TX sandwich boards here:  This is a Facebook link: The Q Board. 

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