behavior--such as the impact of media campaigns or the death of a friend-- these findings support R. Valdiserri and associates' suspicion "that value orientation about condoms interfering with sexual pleasure is likely to change as an individual gains experience with their use" ( 1988:802).
The data reviewed indicate that the social interaction--providing a climate of peer acceptance for safer sex practices, the opportunity to develop the confidence that comes from experience, and the language for negotiating safe sex--made the CBO effective for those studied. This qualitative study demonstrates the detailed interaction requisite of Valdiserri and associates' findings: that condom acceptability was the most important variable in condom use and that other "unknown variables may represent the social skills necessary to broach the topic of condom use with a potential partner" ( 1988:805; Kersell and Milsum 1985).
The Stop AIDS Project, as a CBO, provides an answer to Bauman and Siegel's search for a way to maintain anxiety and manage it, treat the ambiguity of safe sex guidelines, and provide a means for participants to learn the types of health practices of peers ( 1987). The heightened anxiety and awareness of personal threat were both mediated and managed in the CBO's context of mutual support and frank and open discussion. The discussions also developed a detailed "down to the basics" language to treat the ambiguities of the safe sex guidelines and social skills for negotiating safer sex--in particular, the confidence that it was acceptable and a community norm.
Community based organizations are effective in AIDS prevention because they provide an opportunity to develop the social interaction skills needed by the individual to develop a personal prevention strategy. By involving community members to reach their own community, the CBO uses approaches and language that are culturally sensitive. The CBO's provision of a context of mutual support is important in developing personal efficacy within the context of a larger hostile society. Employing the CBO, education and prevention programs can be tailored to the sensibilities of each unique community, using its own indigenous leaders and members. Participation in a CBO is an effective way for the researcher to collect the culturally sensitive data needed to design an effective AIDS prevention program.
I would like to thank Tim Miller and the Stop AIDS Project and AIDS Response Program of Orange County; Larry Bye of Communication Technologies; Arthur Rubel and Francesca Cancian of the University of California Irvine; St. Mary's College of California Faculty Development Fund; and Sophie Craze, who encouraged me to pull together this work.
1. Throughout this paper the term gay refers to homosexual and bisexual persons, in this context, mostly male.