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Men’s sexual health is a hot topic. There is now a men’s health forum with its own parliamentary group, and an increasing profile for men’s health in the press.
Although men are often underrepresented in healthcare use, this is not the case in genitourinary medicine (GUM) services. In 2003, 47% of the 608 636 total diagnoses recorded in England were for men. GUM services have provided services for gay men for many decades and, given the HIV epidemic, are clearly important in diagnosing HIV infection, and, in collaboration with others, managing those found to be infected. In contrast, research into heterosexual men’s sexual health has only recently become prominent. Men are often perceived as having less interest than women in taking care of their own health, and in general use services less. Compared with other outpatient services, GUM clinics must have one of the highest numbers of young males attending. This is encouraging because, from the point of view of transmission of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, men are at least half the equation and certainly half of the solution. The recent introduction of technologies allowing diagnosis using non-invasive specimens has permitted novel ways to be explored in screening for sexually transmitted infections.
Following the successful themed issue of Sexually Transmitted Infections on adolescent sexual health in 2001, an issue devoted to men seemed highly appropriate. This themed edition on men’s sexual health was proposed by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASSH). The editors were enthusiastic, and the call has attracted an excellent response. It is particularly gratifying to see the international nature of the contributions. The result is a testament to their efforts and to the hard work of Dr David Lewis, the guest editor for this issue, who took the lead on young men’s issues while a member of the BASSH adolescent special interest group. The new information contained within these pages will hopefully stimulate further research on the socio-behavioural issues that influence men’s sexual health, epidemiological trends, and diagnoses and management of sexually transmitted infections in men.