What is the MPOWER Programme?
We devise sex-positive, judgement-free and harm reduction-based resources, services and supports where the needs of gay, bisexual and MSM have or can be identified. The programme strives to be inclusive of the diverse identities within the community of gay, bisexual and MSM and to incorporate the experiences of both HIV-positive and HIV-negative men.
Advocacy efforts specifically for gbMSM include:
The MPOWER Programme Manager represents HIV Ireland on a National Chemsex Working Group to address issues related to Chemsex amongst the gbMSM population and to produce harm reduction information and resources.
Organisations represented on the multi-disciplinary group include: HIV Ireland, the Gay Men’s Health Service, HSE-National Drug Treatment Centre, HSE- Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, St. James’s Hospital, Department of Public Health, Social Inclusion and Vulnerable Group, BeLonG To Youth Services, and the Rialto Community Drugs Team.
In partnership with the Gay Men’s Health Service, the MPOWER Programme delivers education and training which aims to increase participants’ knowledge and awareness of Chemsex and issues related to this type of sex and drug use. Find out more about this training
The MPOWER Programme Manager represents HIV Ireland on the National MSM Health Committee. As a member of the committee we provide strategic advice and direction to support the work of the committee and advise on annual priorities for the work of the committee in line with resource allocation.
The purpose of the committee is to:
- Maintain a focus on sexual health among gbMSM.
- Offer strategic advice on planning and resourcing sexual health efforts for gbMSM.
- Monitor progress in the implementation of actions arising from the HSE MSM Action Plan and recommendations of the National Sexual Health Strategy.
In August 2018, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) commenced work on a health technology assessment (HTA) of a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programme for populations at substantial risk of sexual acquisition of HIV.
The MPOWER Programme Manager was a member of the Expert Advisory Group on PrEP and contributed on behalf of the community throughout the process. The HTA has now been published and advice to the Minister for Health on a PrEP Programme for Ireland has been sent.
Research & Reports
We will add our research and reports below as they are published and keep the community informed of our progress.
The MPOWER Rapid HIV Testing service is provided by trained volunteers confidentially, anonymously and free of charge in a range of gay-identified, community-based settings in Dublin City.
We ask all service users to provide non-identifiable statistical information using a registration form when the user attends for a test. As part of a collaboration with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and other NGO’s offering community-based HIV testing, we submit this data to a national monitoring system for the production of a national report.
From 2019, the MPOWER Programme has also analysed the data to create an MPOWER specific report. Having a service-specific report adds to our understanding of those who use the service, the trends in the reactivity rate and for determining whether people most vulnerable to acquiring HIV are being reached.
This report alongside the national surveillance report will enable an ongoing assessment of the impact of community HIV testing strategies, help to inform national testing policy and assist with the future delivery of the service as part of the MPOWER Programme.
The MPOWER team of peer sexual health outreach workers offer information, support and resources relating to HIV, STIs and sexual health & wellbeing needs of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.
One of the key recommendations proposed in a positive external evaluation of the outreach service was the development of a logic model to provide a clear and well-defined description of the aims, objectives and scope of the programme, which in turn would inform a programme manual and a monitoring and evaluation framework to support service implementation.
HIV continues to be an important public health issue. Voluntary community-based HIV testing (VCBT) helps to reduce the undiagnosed population of HIV-positive individuals, enabling early diagnosis and treatment. Monitoring is essential to determine whether at-risk groups are being effectively reached.
Our aim was to pilot and then introduce sustained monitoring of VCBT in Ireland, through collaboration between statutory and non-statutory organisations.