In it Together: National Health Literacy Project for Black MSM

Dates: 2014-2016

Geographic Scope: Nationwide

Client(s): HRSA - HAB

Services: Health Communication, Training & Technical Assistance

Technical Expertise: HIV & Infectious Diseases, Health Disparities


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent estimate that one in two black MSM will get HIV in his lifetime underscores how critical it is for black MSM to find, understand and use HIV prevention, care and treatment information. The ability to find, understand, and use health information is called health literacy.

In It Together: National Health Literacy Project for Black MSM is designed to improve health outcomes along the HIV care continuum by developing health literate organizations and promoting health literacy as a component of culturally appropriate service delivery. The nexus of the project is an 8-part Train the Trainer (ToT) program that helps organizations incorporate health literacy principles and approaches into the care and treatment they provide to black MSM. Today, almost 100 trainers are providing free health literacy trainings in 34 communities in 25 states.

The community health literacy trainings provide rich information on why health literacy is important to HIV treatment and care, how health literacy affects the health outcomes of black MSM, how culture affects black MSM engagement in care, how spoken and written communication techniques can improve health literacy, and what actions organizations can take to become health literate health care organizations. Training participants practice approaches that encourage and improve health literate conversations between health professionals and black MSM, such as the Universal Precautions approach, the teach-back method and Ask Me 3™ technique.

In coordination with the TARGET Center, JSI created a website ( that provides any organization or individuals with access to training slides, audio recordings of trainings, brochures and posters designed to promote health literate practices and approaches, and links to websites, articles and toolkits that informed the training project.


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