Audio-slide show: Welcome to the Mpowerment Project

For a quick overview of the Mpowerment Project, this audio-slideshow is a great place to start.

Welcome to the Mpowerment Project audio slideshow [youtube]

A Community Solution

The Mpowerment Project is being used successfully in diverse communities across the United States and beyond. If your organization is looking for a program that can make an enormous difference in the lives of young gay/bisexual men, ages 18-29, then the Mpowerment Project may be right for you. The Project mobilizes young gay/bisexual men to shape a healthy community for themselves, build positive social connections, and support their friends to have safer sex.

The Mpowerment Project can reach large numbers of young gay/bisexual men in a cost-effective manner because it is a community level intervention. It focuses on the entire community of young gay/bisexual men instead of targeting men individually or solely through small groups. The Mpowerment Project is designed to be tailored to the needs of every community; it is based on a set of interrelated core elements that each community adapts to its own unique characteristics.

Although elements of the Mpowerment Project may seem familiar to people who have worked in HIV prevention previously, how this Project works is different from what typically comes to mind in conducting HIV prevention. While the Mpowerment Project includes safer sex promotion, the program is not defined solely by a focus on condoms or HIV prevention.


Core Elements and Key Characteristics

The Mpowerment Project has 7 Core Elements (plus one optional Core Element). Each Core Element has a corresponding list of Key Characteristics representing desired qualities that can be used to help guide implementation.

Below you will find a 3 page PDF taken from Module 1: Overview that lists the Core Elements and Key Characteristics.

Mpowerment Project Core Elements and their Key Characteristics

Guiding Principles

A series of principles guide this multi-level Project. They include:

  • personal and community empowerment
  • diffusion of new behaviors through social networks
  • peer-influence
  • putting HIV prevention within the context of other compelling issues for young gay/bisexual men (e.g. social issues)
  • community building
  • using gay-positive approaches

The Project is run by a “Core Group” of 10-20 young gay/bisexual men from the community with the support of paid staff. The Core Group, along with other volunteers, design and carry out all Project activities. Ideally, the Project has its own physical space where most outreach events and meetings are held. The Project space can also serve as a drop-in center where young gay/bisexual men meet and support each other. The Project relies on a set of four integrated activities:

A team of young gay/bisexual men goes to popular community locations to discuss and promote safer sex in a fun and engaging way. They distribute appealing HIV prevention material that they have developed themselves. Additionally, the team creates its own outreach events to attract young gay/bisexual men (e.g., dances, video parties, picnics, discussion groups) where HIV prevention is promoted in various ways.

Through their participation in the Mpowerment Project, young men develop the necessary skills and motivation to effectively support and encourage their friends about safer sex

The campaign attracts young gay/bisexual men to the project through word of mouth, articles in gay newspapers, advertisements, web sites, e-mail notices, and other targeted strategies.

These peer-led, 3 hour meetings of 8-10 young gay/bisexual men discuss factors contributing to unsafe sex (e.g., misconceptions about safer sex, beliefs that safer sex is not enjoyable, poor sexual communication skills). Through skills-building exercises, the men practice safer sex negotiation and correct condom use. Participants receive free condoms and lubricant and are trained and motivated to conduct informal outreach with their friends.


M1: Overview

The Overview module discusses in detail how and why the Mpowerment Project was developed, its theoretical basis, including its guiding principles, Core Elements, the scientific evidence of its effectiveness and its cost-effectiveness, and the initial steps to starting the Project in a community.

Mpowerment Project Module 1: Overview

thumbnail of implementation elements

Helping Organizations Implement the Mpowerment Project

Over the past several years, many organizations have expressed interest in implementing the Mpowerment Project and have contacted us with requests for information, training, and assistance with their efforts. In response to these requests, we have developed the following materials and services to assist organizations with their program implementation and evaluation efforts:

This free package includes a 500 page Mpowerment Project Training Manual, an M-group Facilitator Guide, an M-group Meeting Guide, a 22-minute Overview video, and a 47-minute M-group Training video. The manual can be downloaded from www.mpowerment.org/manual, or a printed copy may be requested using the Contact Form in the footer below.

A free, multi-day, introductory training gives participants an in-depth understanding of the Mpowerment Project and the chance to interact with the original researchers and former Project Coordinators.

Organizations implementing the Mpowerment Project may also be eligible to receive free TA from our staff of trained specialists.

A variety of online resources are also available, including social networking pages on Facebook and Youtube (see navigation bar at the bottom of the page).

Please contact us to learn more about the most appropriate materials and services for your organization. We can help you determine if the Mpowerment Project is right for your organization and community, and assist you as you develop a Project timeline or work plan.


CDC logo

The Mpowerment Project works

The Mpowerment Project is the first documented HIV prevention intervention for young gay/bisexual men to succeed in reducing sexual risk behavior. The program has been carefully developed, evaluated, and continually refined over the course of twelve years by prominent behavioral scientists from the University of California, San Francisco’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS), a leading-edge HIV/AIDS research institution.

It has been rigorously evaluated in two cities (Eugene, Oregon and Santa Barbara, California), and in both it reduced the rates of unprotected anal intercourse among young gay/bisexual men. The Mpowerment Project is listed in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Compendium of HIV Prevention Interventions with Evidence of Effectiveness.

Our study also looked at the impact of the Mpowerment Project since HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy) — the drug “cocktail” — has become available. Our data showed that the intervention resulted in a slight decrease (-12%) in risk behavior among young gay/bisexual men in Albuquerque, NM while during the same time period, the risk behaviors in the comparison communities rose dramatically. Young gay/bisexual men in Phoenix, AZ reported a 24% increase in unprotected anal sex, and young gay/bisexual men in Austin, TX reported a 42% increase. At the time these data were collected, neither Austin nor Phoenix had an Mpowerment Project in their communities.


Research Paper 1: The Mpowerment Project – A Community-Level HIV Prevention Intervention for Young Gay Men

The Mpowerment Project was developed with and for young gay and bisexual men. The Mpowerment Project mobilizes young gay/bisexual men to shape a healthy community for themselves, building positive social connections and supporting safer sex. The Mpowerment Project can reach large numbers of young gay/bisexual men in a cost-effective manner because it operates on the community level instead of targeting men individually or solely through small groups.

To cite this paper in your grant you might want to use the following APA format:

Kegeles SM, Hays RB, Coates TJ. The Mpowerment Project: a community-level HIV prevention intervention for young gay men. Am J Public Health. 1996 Aug;86(8):1129-36.

Research Paper 1: The Mpowerment Project - A Community-Level HIV Prevention Intervention for Young Gay Men

Research Paper 2: Mobilizing young gay and bisexual men for HIV prevention: a two-community study

Young gay/bisexual men—those between the ages of 18 and 29—continue to engage in high rates of unprotected anal intercourse and are becoming infected with HIV at alarming rates. HIV Prevention Planning Councils across the country consistently identify young gay and bisexual men as one of the highest priority groups for HIV prevention efforts.

To cite this paper in your grant you might want to use the following APA format:

Kegeles SM, Hays RB, Pollack LM, Coates TJ. Mobilizing young gay and bisexual men for HIV prevention: a two-community study. AIDS. 1999; 12: 1753-1762.

Research Paper 2: Mobilizing young gay and bisexual men for HIV prevention: a two-community study

Research Paper 3: Cost-Effectiveness of the Mpowerment Project

The Mpowerment Project is cost-effective compared with many other HIV prevention strategies. The cost per HIV infection prevented is far less than the lifetime medical costs of HIV disease.

To cite this paper in your grant, you might want to use the following APA format:

Kahn, J. G., Kegeles, S. M., Hays, R., & Beltzer, N. (2001). Cost-effectiveness of the Mpowerment Project, a community-level intervention for young gay men. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (1999), 27(5), 482-491.

Research Paper 3: Cost-Effectiveness of the Mpowerment Project

Research Paper 4: Evaluation of Mpowerment on HIV Risk Behavior, Testing, and Psychosocial Factors: Young MSM of Color

Young men who have sex with men (MSM) of color are at increased risk for HIV infection. Mpowerment (MP) is an intervention designed to reduce risky sexual behavior and increase HIV testing among young MSM ages 18–29. From 2009 to 2012, three community-based organizations with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evaluated MP among N = 298 participants. Following a repeated measures design, data from 3- and 6-month follow-ups were compared to baseline. HIV testing and self-efficacy for safer sex increased at both follow-up time points; self-acceptance as an MSM was higher at follow-up 2. Condomless anal/ vaginal sex was lower at follow-up 1 only. Frequency of exchange of safer sex messages among gay/bisexual/transgender friends was lower at followup 1, but similar to baseline at follow-up 2. Exposure to MP was associated with improved perceived positive social norms about safer sex and safer sex messages among gay/bisexual/transgender friends.

Research Paper 4: Evaluation of Mpowerment on HIV Risk Behavior, Testing, and Psychosocial Factors: Young MSM of Color

Research Paper 5: Challenges and Facilitators to Building Program Evaluation Capacity Among Community–Based Organizations

We have been collaborating with many community–based organizations (CBOs) to increase their capacity to implement our evidence–based HIV prevention intervention. A frequent issue in these collaborations is how CBOs can evaluate their implementation of the intervention using feasible and sound methods. This study sought to provide the foundation for evaluation recommendations, tools, training, and technical assistance to help CBOs build their evaluation capacity. We conducted a qualitative study of 21 CBOs, 12 funders, and 11 technical assistance providers regarding beliefs and attitudes about evaluation, preferences and requirements for evaluation, evaluation methods that are currently being used at CBOs, and recommendations regarding feasible and effective evaluation that CBOs can use. The themes that arose in the telephone interviews are organized around three major topics: facilitators and barriers to conducting evaluation, evaluation methods that CBOs use, and how to increase CBOs’ capacity to conduct evaluations.

Research Paper 5: Challenges and Facilitators to Building Program Evaluation Capacity Among Community–Based Organizations

Research Paper 6: From Science to Application: The Development of an Intervention Package

Many community-based organizations and health departments want to implement HIV prevention interventions with scientifically demonstrated effectiveness. The Replicating Effective Programs (REP) project supported researchers in developing intervention packages designed to help prevention partners replicate effective programs.

Research Paper 6: From Science to Application: The Development of an Intervention Package

Research Paper 7: Facilitators and barriers to effective scale-up of an evidence-based multilevel HIV prevention intervention

Since the scale-up of HIV/AIDS prevention evidence-based interventions (EBIs) has not been simple, it is important to examine processes that occur in the translation of the EBIs into practice that affect successful implementation. The goal of this paper is to examine facilitators and barriers to effective implementation that arose among 72 community-based organizations as they moved into practice

Research Paper 7: Facilitators and barriers to effective scale-up of an evidence-based multilevel HIV prevention intervention

Research Paper 8: The Mpowerment Project: Community-Building With Young Gay and Bisexual Men to Prevent HIV

Since the scale-up of HIV/AIDS prevention evidence-based interventions (EBIs) has not been simple, it is important to examine processes that occur in the translation of the EBIs into practice that affect successful implementation. The goal of this paper is to examine facilitators and barriers to effective implementation that arose among 72 community-based organizations as they moved into practice

Research Paper 8: The Mpowerment Project: Community-Building With Young Gay and Bisexual Men to Prevent HIV

Research Paper 9: Translating Research Into Practice: The Dissemination and Initial Implementation of an Evidence–Based HIV Prevention Program

Since the scale-up of HIV/AIDS prevention evidence-based interventions (EBIs) has not been simple, it is important to examine processes that occur in the translation of the EBIs into practice that affect successful implementation. The goal of this paper is to examine facilitators and barriers to effective implementation that arose among 72 community-based organizations as they moved into practice

Research Paper 9: Translating Research Into Practice: The Dissemination and Initial Implementation of an Evidence–Based HIV Prevention Program

Get more info about the Mpowerment Project

If you would like more information on the Mpowerment Project or about ways to access our capacity building assistance, please send us a message using the form below.