Year of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Health Promotion

Department or School/College

Department of Health and Human Performance

Committee Chair

Annie K. Sondag

Commitee Members

Bryan Cochran, Laura Dybdal


AIDS, depression, Gay men, HIV Prevention Intervention, homosexual men, Montana, Rural, self-esteem, Support Group


University of Montana


This study evaluated the effectiveness of HIV prevention groups for men-who-have-sex-with-men conducted in 4 Montana communities: Butte, Bozeman, Helena and Missoula. A convenience sample of participants (n=37) were recruited from MSM who voluntarily signed-up for participation in the evaluated groups. Comparison group participants (n=31) consisted of a convenience sample of MSM recruited by Montana Targeted Prevention (MTaP) workers during the course of their regular HIV/Hepatitis C outreach activities. Behavioral changes in unprotected anal intercourse and substance use and seven HIV-transmission-behavior influencing factors (sexual communication skills, attitudes towards condoms, HIV transmission knowledge, internalized homophobia, social isolation, self-esteem and depression) were assessed at baseline and again following 9 hours of intervention exposure. No significant changes in frequency of unprotected anal intercourse were observed, however participants reported that they “more regularly wear a condom” as a result of the intervention. Changes in frequency of unprotected anal intercourse may have been underestimated by the short 9-week evaluation period. Forty-eight percent (n=10) of participants engaging in binge drinking (5 or more drinks in one sitting) and 22% (n=4) of marijuana using participants reported a reduction in use. Intervention group participants indicated significant positive changes in measures of depression (p=.00) and self-esteem (p=.00). Participants identified factors related to community involvement and social support as being the primary factors facilitating MSM participation in HIV prevention groups. Group participation generated multiple positive intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes that may facilitate short-term and long-term adoption and maintenance of positive health behavior changes. In the rural and geographically vast frontier state of Montana, HIV prevention groups may also play a critical role in the health and well being of Montana’s MSM community by providing gay community infrastructure and positive social norms of sexual health that may serve to reduce the damaging effects of social stigma often experienced by rural MSM.

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© Copyright 2009 Patricia Anne O'Brien