Majority of Men Worldwide Need More Information, Services To Prevent HIV, STDs, Unplanned Pregnancies, Report Says
The majority of men worldwide, especially men in developing nations, lack the information and services needed to protect themselves and their sexual partners from unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, according to a new Alan Guttmacher Institute report released on Thursday. The report, titled "In Their Own Right: Addressing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Men Worldwide," is based on data on men ages 15 to 54 in 45 nations worldwide. The data was collected from nationally representative surveys conducted between the mid-1990s and 2001 and from qualitative surveys of men regarding their attitudes, values and behavior regarding sexual and reproductive health. According to the report, 20% to 46% of men in sub-Saharan Africa and 15% to 30% of men in Latin America and the Caribbean do not want a child soon or do not want additional children; however, neither the men nor their partners are using contraceptives. In addition, the percentage of men ages 15 to 54 in developing nations who know that condom use can help prevent HIV infection varies greatly from country to country -- ranging from 82% in Brazil to 9% in Bangladesh. "We know that sex and reproduction involve both men and women, but policymakers, health care providers and even men themselves are often not aware that men have sexual and reproductive health needs and that men can actively contribute to improving their partner's and their own health," Akinrinola Bankole, a lead researcher on the report, said, adding, "The evidence clearly shows that men do need better information, counseling and clinical care, and that our failure to provide these services is jeopardizing efforts to fight STIs, including HIV, and reduce unwanted pregnancies (AGI release, 10/9).
AGI on Thursday also released a report specifically addressing the sexual and reproductive health needs of men in the United States. The report, titled "In Their Own Right: Addressing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of American Men," focuses on men ages 15 to 49 and examines how patterns in men's sexual lives shape policy and programs. According to the report, 80% of reported AIDS cases in the United States are among men. However, few health professionals are specifically trained to provide men with sexual and reproductive health information and services. In addition, many men fail to seek regular, routine health checkups; many health insurance plans do not cover the cost of men's reproductive health services; and many men, especially low-income men, do not have access to health insurance, according to the report. The report concludes, "Movement toward a more holistic and broad-based approach to sexual and reproductive health care for men should enhance their well-being, equip them to make responsible decisions, result in lower levels of STDs and unintended childbearing, and help make men better fathers. Thus, what is increasingly seen as good for men in their own right should turn out to be just as good for women" ("In Their Own Right: Addressing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of American Men" executive summary, AGI, 10/9).