Creating catalysts for positive social change: using an innovative peer education model to work with young Black African, Black Caribbean and Black British MSM on sexual health in London, United Kingdom
O. Uzzi, M. Chatukuta, W. Allamby, R. Ghose
Naz Project London, London, United Kingdom
Issues: Young Black Men who have sex with Men (MSM) in the United Kingdom are disproportionately impacted by HIV and there is a lack of prevention programs specifically tailored towards this population.
Description: The Catalyst Project is a peer education program which focuses on developing young Black MSM (Aged 18-30) into sexual health peer leaders for their community. Peer leaders undergo an accredited training program to raise their awareness on a range of topics including the holistic nature of sexual health; cultural, social, and identity issues affecting Black MSM; and community specific and sexual health service provision. After completing the training program, peer leaders carry out a community engagement project in which they partner with leading voluntary and community organizations in London to deliver messages and support other young Black MSM with HIV, sexual health, personal development and social needs in a number of creative ways.
Lessons learned: Through the program, peer leaders gained knowledge and skills about HIV and sexual health issues as well as social, cultural and identity issues that influence the sexual health of young Black MSM. Moreover, peer leaders utilized innovative modes of communication such as new media and creative arts to lead interventions that supported and delivered sexual health, anti-stigma and same sex affirming messages to their peers. This has improved the reach, accessibility and quality of engagement of young Black MSM to sexual health issues and services. As a result, young Black MSM in the community are more empowered to make healthy sexual choices and have increased access to sexual health services.
Next steps: Through the successful implementation of programs such as The Catalyst Project, peer educators will gain valuable knowledge, skills, and accredited training which will enable them to lead interventions that provide culturally competent information and support to marginalized individuals with respect to sexual health.