Background Asymptomatic sexually transmitted infections remain a significant public health concern as treatment is frequently not sought by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms. Few studies have utilised social networks as a means for recruiting participants to explore novel approaches to STD testing, service delivery, and prevention information.
Methods As part of a larger study, a diverse sample of 25 men (10 Black, 10 White, 5 Latino), between the ages of 18 and 54 (M = 30.1, SD = 12.7) who primarily identified as heterosexual (n = 23), were recruited within a large underserved urban area in the Midwestern United States. Semi-structured interviews were completed to elicit items and themes around preferred methods of STD services delivery and STD information. To identify rates of common bacterial infections among our sample, participants were screened for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and trichomonas.
Results Of our sample, 16% (n = 4) tested positive for a bacterial STI, with 8% (n = 2) testing positive for chlamydia and 8% (n = 2) testing positive for trichomonas. A number of themes emerged from the data in regards to preferred STD delivery services and STD information gathering, including: (1) perceived stigma from their social networks, (2) potential financial costs incurred, and (3) perceived barriers to accessing STD screening venues. Seeking out STD screening was mitigated by two factors: (1) a lack of perceived sexual risk and (2) lack of potential STD symptoms. Participants acquired and preferred to access sexual health information via internet resources and their own social networks.
Conclusions Results highlight a variety of psychosocial variables that influence STD screening uptake and preferred methods of screening. Our findings provide further evidence for the need to tailor the development of STD screening and treatment options that are acceptable to asymptomatic men in traditionally underserved areas.
- bacterial infections
- sexual health
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