Date of Conferral





Public Health


Jacqueline Fraser


Despite significant research and inroads with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), disparities in HIV infection continue to widen for African American (AA) men who have sex with men (MSM). In recent times, cultural competence has been receiving increased attention as a possible factor to enhance the quality of health messaging and lessening HIV disparities. However, there is a dearth of research specifically dedicated to AA MSM and culturally competent HIV health messages. To address this gap, this qualitative research was designed to investigate the self-perceived cultural competency among HIV counselors. The theoretical framework for the project was the PEN-3 cultural model. The interview participants for the study were 10 HIV interventionists employed with health institutions that partially or entirely specialize in HIV prevention in the Richmond, Virginia, area. The analysis of the data was aided by a phenomenology analytical approach. The results revealed that cultural competence training can be one effective means to enhance the quality of health messages targeting AA MSM. This investigation has social change implications, especially in the context of developing sustainable HIV prevention interventions focused on integrating culture, thereby reducing HIV disparities in the Richmond metropolitan area. The findings may also lend insight into the various ways that health establishments can engage in culturally relevant prevention and position themselves to be leaders in informing the development of culturally competent HIV prevention messages that will aid in the acceleration of changing longstanding, ineffective prevention approaches targeting AA MSM.