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Promoting sexual health services to young men: findings from focus group discussions
  1. Steve Pearson, BSc, PhD, Researcher
  1. Centre for Sexual Health Research, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence Dr S Pearson, Centre for Sexual Health Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 2380 597770. Fax: +44 (0) 2380 593844. E-mail: pearson22s{at}


Context Recently, increasing interest has been shown in men's reproductive health, sexual behaviour and use of contraception. As the majority of sexual health service clients are female, however, little research has been done on the characteristics and needs of male clients.

Objective Using data from focus group discussions, this paper considers whether young men need sexual health services, whether current services are appropriate and accessible, and what promotion strategies might increase service uptake.

Design Nine focus group discussions with 75 men aged 13–21 years at different locations in England.

Results Young men's decision-making around sexual health may involve seeking advice from a close friend, but is less likely in some male social groups. Use of services by young men is most likely to obtain free condoms, or to remedy a crisis situation. While a young man is becoming familiar with obtaining condoms from a service, the need for a quick, straightforward service seems important. The stereotypical view within the groups was that sexual health services are women-oriented. However, suggestions are given to make services more youth- and male-friendly. Promotion should aim to increase awareness and advance a positive image of a sexual health service.

Discussion and conclusions Effective promotion campaigns (designed with the input of local young men), combined with appropriate and accessible services, should help to increase service use among young men.

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