Mpowerment Project


The Mpowerment Project, launching in April 2012, is YouthCO’s new community-building HIV intervention targeting young gay/bi guys age 18-29.  The goal of the project is to reduce sexual risk behaviour and increase knowledge of current HIV serostatus among gay/bi youth by developing a strong, healthy, empowered community of young men who: (a) support each other in reducing their sexual risk behaviour, (b) support each other in accessing HIV testing, and in functioning successfully in the larger society where heterosexuality is the norm.


– 1 in 35 of Vancouver’s gay youth are HIV+ and don’t know it
– Almost a quarter of Vancouver’s gay youth have never been tested for HIV
– Stigma surrounding HIV amongst Vancouver’s young gay population is still high
– Data indicates that gay youth are less likely to be knowledgeable about transmission risks
– There is little inclusion of positive gay youth in HIV prevention and education
– There is little public or social dialogue around HIV, especially amongst gay youth
– HIM (Health Initiative for Men) is currently the only organization offering community-level programming that reaches gay youth. This includes:
— Social marketing campaigns re: testing & risk assessment
— Formal outreach, mainly through bar and event condom distribution
— Various classes/groups that address the social, mental, physical and relationship challenges of gay men.

Programming Gaps

Further community-level programming in necessary to address all of the individual, interpersonal, cultural, community/structural factors and biomedical factors that put gay/bi youth at risk for transmitting and contracting HIV.
THEREFORE, there are community-level programming gaps in the following areas:
– Direct HIV education
– Peer-disseminated messaging / social network diffusion
– Informal Outreach
– Stigma Reduction
– Community-Building
– Sexual Self-Esteem Promotion

A multi-level HIV prevention program is needed to address the variety of issues and factors that contribute to sexual risk-taking and reluctance to get regular HIV testing specifically amongst gay youth under the age of 30.

Proposed Project: The Mpowerment Model

– Research shows that community-level HIV interventions are most effective when there is a multi-level approach. The best multi-level, evidence-based intervention for gay/bi youth (in a North American cultural context) is the Mpowerment Project.
– The Mpowerment Project is a model HIV prevention program (implemented in several dozen US cities) that has been specifically designed to address the needs of gay/bi youth. Scientific studies of the project conducted over 10 years demonstrate that the program reduces the rates of unprotected anal intercourse among this group, and thus lowers the rate of new HIV infection.
– 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.



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