The Mpowerment Project is a national, community-level intervention program for young gay men. Mpowerment is designed to empower young individuals to take charge of their health by practicing safe sex, encourage regular HIV testing, building positive social connections, promoting PrEP and support their peers. Mpowerment is run by a “core group” of 10-20 young gay men from the community and staff that carries out all project activities. The miracle of Love’s core group is called The Orlando Mpowerment Group (OMG) meets on a bi-weekly basis, to plan events such as fashion shows, outreach, outings, or to simply hang out at the Stafford House. OMG also prepares and distributes safe sex kits, which are distributed to local bars while promoting safe sex and HIV testing. OMG strives to make most of these issues a norm among the individuals and groups they reach out to.
The Mpowerment Project has four major components/activities:
● formal outreach
Teams of young gay men go to locations frequented by young gay men to discuss and promote safer sex, deliver appealing informational literature on HIV risk reduction, and distribute condoms. Additionally, the team creates their own social events to attract young gay men (e.g., dances, video parties, picnics, discussion groups) at which safer sex can be promoted.
These peer-led, 2-3 hour meetings of 5-10 young gay men discuss factors contributing to unsafe sex among the men (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 to conduct informal outreach.
● informal outreach
Informal outreach consists of young men discussing safer sex with their friends in the community.
● ongoing publicity campaign
The campaign attracts young gay men to the project by word of mouth and through articles and advertisements in gay newspapers.