Wednesday, June 24, 2015

8 ways Mpowerment Projects can support PrEP as an option.

Mpowerment Projects (MP) are strategically poised to take advantage of new biomedical interventions that exist, and new ones certain to arrive soon. We believe combining social, behavioral, and biomedical approaches will have the greatest impact on HIV prevention. 

Although the MP was originally conceived as a primary prevention strategy focused on reducing unprotected sex, because it is multilevel and inherently flexible, its components are well suited for delivering health-promoting content across any number of domains, including the use of PrEP and possibly encouraging positive guys to seek healthcare, stay in care over time, and adhere to HIV medications—though we are still testing MP’s efficacy at improving engagement in care.

The MP’s adaptability and methods make it a promising approach to use to disseminate information and to mobilize young men to learn more about PrEP and decide if PrEP is right for them. Since MP is a community level intervention, and is already established in many communities, it has the ability to reach thousands of young men about biomedical advances. 

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

Mpowerment YVR | Vancouver BC

Here are a few ideas to insure that PrEP can be successfully integrated into MP:

1) M-groups, one of the components of the Mpowerment Project intervention, are one-time skills building sessions for small groups of young gay and bisexual men.  The M-groups have been updated to include information and discussion points about PrEP.  M-groups are designed for a mixed group of young men, those living with HIV (whether they are out about their status or not) and HIV negative young men, as well as HIV unknown status men. A training manual for the M-groups including newly revised PrEP content and new content specifically for HIV+ men related to engagement in care (called the M-group Facilitator’s Guide) can be accessed when you register for free at

2) Collaborate. If your organization doesn’t provide PrEP, have someone from your local clinic that provides PrEP come to a Core Group meeting to meet with CG members and volunteers to educate them about how young MSM can access PrEP locally. If there isn’t a local resource, try to generate interest by working with an LGBT-friendly clinic or clinical provider. Some MPs have found that their local clinics are set up to enroll participants.

3) Create attractive outreach materials that can be distributed at venues where young gay and bisexual men gather, and posted on social media that:
  • Inform your participants about PrEP as an option. Keep them in the vein of traditional MP materials, create graphically appealing, cheeky, fun materials that are attractive as well as informative for young adult bisexual and gay men. 
M Society | Mpowerment Houston TX
4) Create opportunities for referral/linkage to PrEP by having a list of local providers who are open and willing to prescribe PrEP available at the Mpowerment Project project space. Work with your agency to create ‘PrEP navigators’ who can assist young men with doctors, needed labs and to explore financial assistance options.

5)  Many projects have already hosted ‘PrEP forums’, bringing in local providers, health professionals and PrEP advocates. Encourage participants who are willing to share their PrEP journey. Perhaps your Community Advisory Board (CAB) can help with securing guest speakers. 

6) Explore ways young men can support their friends who decide to use PrEP

United Black Ellument (U-BE), Mpowerment Dallas TX
7) Collaborate. Have your Core Group members volunteer with a local clinic that offers PrEP. Some MPs have found that their local clinics are set up to enroll participants. 

8) Ask your funder, agency or health department for increased funding for PrEP implementation so that these ideas can be integrated into MP social events as well as marketing and awareness campaigns. Adding a new HIV prevention tool requires additional coordinator training, programming effort and planning. Be sure your Project gets credit.  

As always, follow the MP guiding principle of being gay affirming and sex positive. Develop activities and/or materials that might address PrEP-stigma in your community if appropriate.  MP also recognizes the need to nurture the exploration and celebration of gay men’s sexuality, not just focused on condom use but including the variety of sexual activities that are safe.

We would like to hear your feedback about these suggestions and any examples of how you are putting these and other ideas into action.

The Q Austin, Mpowerment Texas
How The Q Austin, Mpowerment Austin TX works with with the Austin PrEP Access Project (A-PAP). via Marcus Cruz Sanchez, Mpowerment Coordinator.

The A-PAP began in December 2014 as a group of volunteers who recognized the critical need to make PrEP more available in the Austin area. The Q Austin has been hosting discussion groups, distributing articles and information on PrEP on their social media and at the Q Space. The Q Austin participants were presenting with knowledge of PrEP yet were asking ‘how does one get on PrEP?’ 

The Q Austin had prepared local physician referrals for PrEP, however some of these doctors were not accepting new patients and the referral list quickly became useless. 

A-PAP is an all volunteer force. They work with local HIV researchers and doctors to secure a little space at a local clinic. They have organized doctors and phlebotomists interested in volunteering their services. APAP makes appointments with clients and their navigators. When they meet with the navigator the client receives a battery of tests. When the tests check out, the prescription goes to the navigator for approval. They look at options to pay for a PrEP prescription. 

The Q Austin coordinators, Core Group and volunteers are on board with increasing PrEP access. Q Austin coordinators  sought approval from the agencies Prevention Director to include A-PAP and PrEP cards at their testing clinic. 

The Q Austin let’s participants know that A-PAP is in Austin and active. Q Austin lets A-PAP is a good place to gain PrEP access. In the next few months they are working on planning additional PrEP/education panels to be hosted in the Q Space.  At upcoming community and pride events the Q Austin asks to table right beside A-PAP. The Q is talking to the Austin young MSM community on a daily basis and reflecting on PrEP as a new HIV prevention tool.

The Q Austin, Mpowerment TX

A-PAP Austin Texas

Austin PrEP Access Project: website

The Q Austin: websiteLike The Q Austin on FacebookFollow the Q Austin twitter
The Q Austin is a Project of AIDS Services of Austin

Additional PrEP resources and articles:
How to talk to your doctor about PrEP via the Advocate
PrEP Toolkit via AIDS United 
Project Inform offers free to order PrEP cards
My PrEP experience
Patient Assistance: Paying for PrEP (Truvada) via Gilead
Welcome to the California PrEP provider directory: please PrEP me

PrEP as a prevention option:  our previous blog on PrEP.
Preparing for PrEP: What PrEP could mean for Black gay and bi men: via The Black AIDS Institute
"The most celebrated, mistrusted little pill in the world." Two old friends debate the daily drug that could revolutionize HIV prevention. 

Additional resources for doctors:
Engaging healthcare providers to implement HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis.
[Curr Opin HIV AIDS. 2012] - PubMed - For Doctors / Providers link
Project Inform offers booklets in English and Spanish: Order form for PrEP booklets
The Centers of Disease Control -  CDC | Resources for Doctors / Providers
My PrEP Experience blog:  Animated Video "What is PrEP?"

Read more about the Mpowerment Project in the manual.   The manual is a free download when you register at Click here for a quick look at the essential Core Elements of the Mpowerment Project. 

Austin PrEP Access Project - Austin TX

Questions? We are here for you. 

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