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Men's sexual health matters  >  Section 3: Effective approaches 
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Section 3: Effective approaches

Men's Sexual Health Matters

Acknowledgements
Definitions
Introduction
Working with men
Starting work with men
Effective approaches
Sexual development and function
Common sexual problems
Resources and organisations

 

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Creating the right environment

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ACTIVITY Understanding other people

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Support groups

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Men and health services

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Different men, different needs

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ACTIVITY Me and my father

 

 

 

Men's sexual health matters    14  Page 15  16  top of page

  Section 3: Effective approaches

 

Fishermen in Sierra Leone meet together to chat -a good time to talk to them about sexual health.

Health and community workers need to learn how to communicate with men, and to find out about men's needs. Because men do not often talk about personal matters, it is often difficult to find out what men are really doing and thinking. What men say and do in public, such as in a health clinic, at work or in a bar, may be very different from what is happening in private.

 

Focusing on particular groups of men 
Specific groups of men may share needs, attitudes and concerns. Boys and young men, for example, may have similar anxieties about body changes, developing sexuality or new relationships. Migrant workers may share concerns about being away from home and learning how to protect themselves and their families from sexually transmitted infections. 

On the other hand, some men may find it difficult to identify themselves as part of a group with common needs and concerns. For example, men who have sex with men, but who do not see themselves as gay or bisexual, or who fear violence if they are discovered, may avoid being publicly identified as gay or bisexual.

Focusing on particular issues 
You may prefer to include work on sex and sexuality issues as part of the work that you are already doing. For example, you might talk to young men about contraception and safer sex, distribute condoms to male sex workers, or encourage men to attend your clinic for sexual health check-ups and treatment. 

The advantage of dealing with a single issue is that it is practical and clearly focused. This makes it a good way to start working with men. It also puts the focus on the issue (such as condom use) rather than on the men themselves. This may make it easier for men to talk, and to start thinking about, wider health issues, such as communication and enjoyment of sex. 

A danger of working on a single issue is that the focus may become too narrow, making it easy to avoid discussing more difficult issues. Increasing men's condom use, for instance, is not simply a practical matter of providing condoms, because it also involves wider issues of increasing knowledge and understanding, and changing attitudes, feelings and behaviour.


REACHING AND INVOLVING MEN 
 

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What are the men in your area interested in finding out? Are there any common sexual health issues raised by others working with men in your area? Talk to local health service providers or researchers based at universities.

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Talk to men and find out what they think about sex, health and relationships, and what their sexual health needs are.

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What could affect men's views on their needs (e. g. age, ethnicity, class, religion or sexual orientation)?

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What might be a good starting point? Start with an issue that you know is of interest to the men that you are going to work with.

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Take the initiative in talking about sexual health, but be sensitive to men's feelings and conditioning.

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Learn to tell the difference between how men present themselves in public and private.

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Identify the barriers to men's use of existing sexual health services. Use this information to develop your work on men's sexual health.



    

 

 

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  Section 3: Effective approaches

Creating the right environment

Below are some ideas for different ways to start working with men. You will need to adapt these ideas to suit the concerns and circumstances of the men you are working with.

Educators talking to truck drivers when they stop for food and rest, Tamil Nadu, India.



Listening and giving information 
Men are often expected to know everything about sex. In reality, boys and men often lack basic, accurate information about sex and relationships, and rely instead on myths and half-truths. 

If you are a health worker or educator, and men say that they know it all already, one strategy is to say that giving this information is routine practice at the clinic, and not a reflection on their ignorance or lack of experience. Using leaflets or other printed materials can be a good idea, but the materials should be written and designed to be relevant to men. Men may disregard more general materials as 'not for me'. 

It is sometimes said that men are not interested in sexual health, and are unwilling to take responsibility for it. This is because men may not always express their true feelings on the subject to a 'professional'. A man who always jokes about other men's sexual performance may actually be worried about his own abilities. Someone who continually insults other men's sexuality may be confused about his own. It is important to pay attention to what men's words and actions actually mean. It may be useful to try to interpret or 'read' such behaviour, rather than accepting it at face value.

 

India 
Driving the message home
There are many truck drivers in India, many of whom have unprotected sex, with more than one sexual partner, while they are travelling. Truck drivers and their partners are therefore at high risk of getting and transmitting HIV and other STIs. At the same time, they are also potentially very effective health promoters.

The AIDS Research Foundation of India (ARFI) talked to truckers about their sexual beliefs and behaviours. They then developed some key health messages, which were intended to: 
 

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be simple and easy to remember - many truckers have unprotected sex with multiple partners each day

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focus on immediate needs (safer sex options, fewer partners) rather than distant goals (challenging beliefs or recommending abstinence)

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give truckers confidence in using safe alternatives to unsafe sex, rather than induce fear

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use the truckers’ own words and beliefs

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appreciate the dangers faced by truckers on the roads which make them feel fatalistic

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look at what is being done which is unsafe - that is, penetrative sex - rather than whether the partner is male or female

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recognise that truckers want to have penetrative sex, and therefore not spend much time explaining non-penetrative options.
 

The education materials suggest a range of alternatives to unsafe sex. They provide information without being bossy. Most truckers do not have regular access to radio, TV or newspapers, so young men have been selected by ARFI to work as ‘anchor educators’. They are knowledgeable about the truckers’ lifestyle, available when needed, and are trusted by the drivers. Flip charts, flash cards, story-boards and videos are shown at truck stops where drivers stop for food, rest and entertainment. 

AIDS Research Foundation of India.



Using opportunities for health promotion
There are key times when men are more willing to think about their sexual health, such as when a man goes to a clinic with an STI, or when a man becomes a father for the first time. 

If a man comes to a clinic for treatment of an STI, this is an opportunity to talk with him about how to prevent other infections, and how to protect his sexual partners. It may also be possible to answer questions about related issues, such as the safety of particular sex practices or communication with partners. It is important not to put men off by making them feel criticised or giving them too much information at once. Sometimes the first contact a worker has with a man is when he is having a crisis. At these times it is especially important to react sensitively. Otherwise a man may become even more isolated and less likely to be able to ask for help in future.



    

 

 

Men's sexual health matters    16  Page 17  18  top of page

  Section 3: Effective approaches

 

Working with groups 
Men often behave very differently when they are in a group from when they are alone. In a group, they may hide their own concerns in their desire to be accepted by other group members. Yet the approach to use when working with a group is basically the same as for working with individuals. It takes time, but with experience workers can learn to read the real concerns which may be hidden behind joking or hostility.

Single-sex and mixed groups 
There are both advantages and disadvantages to working with just men Men often feel more free to talk openly in a men-only group. However, mixed groups give men the chance to hear what women think and feel, and vice versa. It might be useful to work with both men-only and mixed groups.

Male or female workers? 
Different men will have different preferences, but some feel very strongly about whether they would prefer to talk to a man or a woman Ideally, a man should be able to choose whether he sees a male or a female worker. 

Male workers may feel that they lack experience of talking with other men about social or emotional issues, and that they need some training and support. For women workers, working with men can provide challenges. Discussing sexual issues with a member of the opposite sex may be embarrassing or potentially threatening for women. In both cases, it is important to set clear boundaries and ground rules for acceptable behaviour. No worker of either sex should be forced to work with any particular client or group.

Using resources 
Even when men are willing to take part in group work on sexual health, for example, at school or at work, they may be worried about drawing attention to themselves or being exposed as ignorant or inadequate. 

It can be useful to direct attention away from individuals by using a resource such as a leaflet or video. This allows discussion without focusing on any particular person. It is more likely that men will later relax enough to talk about their own specific sexual health concerns. 

In many STI clinics, for example, workers have found it helpful to use a standard questionnaire to gather information on sexual histories and also to begin discussion on wider issues. This questionnaire raises many issues, making it easier for men to ask for further information.

 

South Africa 
Puppets in prison
HIV transmission is a huge problem in prisons. In one South African prison, a project was started to promote awareness of HIV and AIDS among prisoners, and encourage prisoners to think about a range of sexual health issues. Workshops were held where prisoners were taught about AIDS. The prisoners designed and produced a puppet play. The prisoners wrote the stones, made the puppets and performed the show to other prisoners.

Puppets allow the prisoners to address very difficult and painful issues of prison life - HIV, anal sex, rape, drugs and prostitution. Through puppets, prisoners can talk about their experiences more directly than they could otherwise. The involvement of the prisoners themselves in raising awareness of what really happens in prison has had more impact than lectures on the dangers of unprotected sex, or mass distribution of condoms. Puppets are a way of distancing the pain and humiliation of certain sexual acts. They allow people to act out their experiences without fear of personal embarrassment.

Puppets can be very useful in work on sensitive issues because they can reach people in ways that human actors cannot. Puppets can: 
 

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break down barriers and stereotypes

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be more controversial than humans

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cost less than human actors and are easy to transport

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deliver a serious message in a humorous way without frightening or offending people.


Nyanga Tshabalala and Gary Friedman.



USING RESOURCE MATERIALS 

 

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Don't be afraid to use teaching aids or activities with men. Men are often keen to talk, although they may not show it. They can be very willing to try new things.

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Always look at materials before you use them with a group or client, to make sure that they are suitable.

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Not all materials are appropriate for all settings. What is right for a classroom, for example, may not be right for work with street children.

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Do not rely on materials as a key to success; they are only tools. Effective work with men relies on your understanding, skills and motivation.

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If you are trying a teaching resource for the first time, always have an alternative prepared, in case your first choice does not work very well.

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Use a range of different activities and materials if you are doing regular sessions with men. Variety helps to keep interest and attention.

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Make up (or adapt) your own resources. There is no such thing as a 'perfect' resource for men. Experiment, and share your experiences with other workers.



    

 

 

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  Section 3: Effective approaches

 

ACTIVITY


UNDERSTANDING OTHER PEOPLE


The aim of this activity is for men and women to have a chance to hear what the other sex thinks and feels.

TIME At least one hour
MATERIALS A board or large sheet of paper with the following questions written on them:
 

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What do you think it means to be faithful in a relationship?

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What do you think the opposite sex should know about your feelings and thoughts on this subject?

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Would you like the opposite sex to behave differently to the way they do at present?


1  Ask the group to agree that discussions will be confidential, and to agree any other ground rules which are important for the group.

2  Divide the group into pairs of men and pairs of women.

3  Ask everyone to discuss the questions in their pairs.

4  Ask for three or four volunteers of each sex to come up to the front of the group and say what they have been discussing.

5  Once both men and women have spoken, ask the group to discuss the following questions: 
Did all the men in the group have the same answers?
Did all the women?
What were the differences?
What differences were there between men and women? Why was this?

This activity can be adapted for different topics and different groups, for example, adults and teenagers, gay and straight men, or people of two different religions. 



Outreach work 
Because men may be reluctant to attend sexual health clinics and other services, some workers take the services to the men. This is known as 'outreach work'. Possible settings for outreach work include: schools, workplaces, prisons, bars and nightclubs, sports clubs, youth clubs and street corners.
 
Men are often more willing to attend a health lecture, discussion group or check-up if they can go with friends or workmates. Men are also sometimes more willing to use outreach services because they can stay in a familiar environment where they feel comfortable. 

Football grounds or other sports settings have the advantage of already being connected with healthy activities. Sporting stars can be used as role models. Many young men attend youth clubs. These have a relaxed atmosphere which can help to create a good environment for sexual health education.

It is a good idea to make links with other organisations. Alliances can be built between different health services, with employers, social clubs or schools. These can help to make sexual health services available to more men, and can involve health promotion more generally in men's lives.

 

Ghana
Outreach with men

Ghana Outreach with men

The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG) planned to increase men's involvement and support of their wives in using contraceptives. They worked with men in a variety of community settings. Daddies Clubs were set up in places where men worked, such as plantations and mines. Along with information and discussion on sexual and reproductive health, the clubs provided a social element with activities, such as films and football matches.

At industrial centres and national vocational training institutes, lectures and discussion groups were organised for men, together with leisure activities. Condom campaigns and distribution programmes were run in hotels and bars alongside training sessions for staff. Sexual and reproductive health issues were discussed at literacy groups (for both men and women). Now more men are attending clinics with their partners.



    

 

 

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  Section 3: Effective approaches

 

Peer educators 
Peer educators are members of a community who have volunteered to learn about a subject and pass on information and skills to their peers (people who share similar backgrounds and interests). Peer education can be a useful way to encourage discussion among people who do not find it easy to talk to health workers because they are nervous or suspicious of them. Peer education projects have been successful with, for example, young people, sex workers and drug users. 

To be successful, peer educators must be respected by other people in their peer group. They will need support and training in sexual health information and how to talk about sexual health with their peers. They also need support in when and how to refer cases that they cannot deal with.

Media campaigns 
Radio, newspapers and television can reach large numbers of people. Media campaigns can help to spread basic information to men who may not be in touch with sexual health services. Health messages can be presented as news or information, or included in stories, cartoons or dramas.

Mass media messages can be listened to without a man drawing attention to himself. Media campaigns and public information messages can playa vital role in making everyone aware of the importance of men's sexual health, and advertising services. 

However, media campaigns can only give general information, or stimulate thought. They cannot address an individual's specific needs. Public health campaigns are most successful when they use a mixture of strategies, such as radio and newspaper advertising combined with outreach work and clinic and counselling services.

Support groups

All sexual health workers need training and support. Suitable resources and support from managers is important, but sexual health workers can also support each other. 

Forming a support group is one way to share ideas and have the chance to talk things over together. Support groups can provide time away from everyday work, making it easier to step back and reflect. Promoting sexual health with men is for many people a new area of work, making it especially important to share experiences and difficulties, and to learn from these. Belonging to a group can help workers to feel less isolated.

 

Thailand 
Healthy army conscripts
The Royal Thai Army collaborated with the Ministry of Public Health to develop an AIDS education programme for military conscripts. Most conscripts were unmarried young men with only a few years' education.

First, the educators ran focus groups with conscripts to find out what they might need to know and how they would like to learn it. They found that the conscripts knew Little about HIV transmission. The conscripts had a strong preference for informal peer education without relying on fear as a motivation for changing their behaviour. Peer educators were chosen by the conscripts and trained during a three-day course. The course started with a welcome party and moved on to basic knowledge-based sex education, skills for communication and teamwork and some information on teaching methods.

Those who passed the course went on to work with over 3500 recruits, running three-hour sessions for groups of 30 men. The sessions included ice-breaking games, a video on AIDS, and games on safer sex, condom use and risk exposure. Free condoms were then made available to conscripts. The rate of new HIV infections among young Thai men now seems to be reducing.



FORMING A SUPPORT GROUP
 

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Agree to meet regularly. Many people find asking for help more difficult when they need it most. Regular sessions provide a forum for questions and concerns. 

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Decide ground rules which every member can agree on. For example, agree that nothing said in the group will be repeated outside the group, and that people will not speak when someone else is speaking. 

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Choose a group leader, or agree that different people will take turns to lead the group. The leader must make sure that meetings start and finish on time, must see that everyone has a turn to speak, and can decide when to leave a topic.

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Give everyone a few minutes to talk about what they have been doing, what is going well and what they are having difficulties with.

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You could also use a support group to test new resources or working methods before trying them with clients. For example, you could try some of the activities included in this publication. 



    

 

 

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  Section 3: Effective approaches

Men and health services 

Visitors to this UK clinic can choose to see either a man or a woman.


Traditional health service settings, such as family planning clinics, are attended largely by women. It is important to create environments in which men feel welcome and relaxed. This can mean taking sexual health services to where men work or socialise. It can also mean improving existing services.

Men are not often encouraged to be involved in family planning or looking after the health of their babies and children. Therefore, many health services are not used to working with men and are not accessible to them. For example, they are often only open during hours when men are working. 

Many men have had no positive experience of talking about sexual matters, so seeking help for the first time can feel like a big risk. Men often see sexual health services (where they exist) as impersonal and unwelcoming. 

Some health workers may make it hard for men to trust them. They may feel uneasy or afraid of men. Many workers feel that they don't know enough about men's sexual health needs and problems. Men may feel that health workers want to restrict their behaviour or criticise them. 

Some men may feel uncomfortable about seeing a woman about sexual matters. Other men may prefer talking to a woman. Ideally, services should offer men the choice of seeing either a male or a female health worker. If this choice is not available, many men may find it hard to use sexual health services.

 

Colombia 
Men-only clinics
In Colombia, far fewer men than women attend clinics for sexual health services. At most clinics in the capital city, Bogota, only 16 per cent of men go to family planning clinics, compared with 35 per cent of women.

Three clinics for men have been opened, in Bogota and two other cities, by Profamilia, the family planning association. The new clinics have their own entrances and waiting areas. They provide services in reproductive tract, bladder and prostrate problems, sex therapy, infertility, STI treatment, family planning and outpatient surgery. 

The clinic in Bogota is in a separate building to the main family planning clinic. This is a key factor in encouraging men to attend. A counsellor also plays a key role in reaching men. He or she provides confidential advice suited to each person. Men arrive at the clinic for health reasons and often seek counselling on issues concerning relationships and emotions. For example, one client first requested a prostate examination, and later talked about his relationship with his daughters.

Providing separate services for men has resulted in a dramatic rise in numbers of men attending clinics. In mixed clinics, staff have been encouraged to be more sensitive to men's needs and try to involve them. For example, in one clinic a counsellor works mainly with couples seeking family planning services, to encourage men's involvement in family  planning.

Men at both types of clinics say that they find the services valuable. Profamilia's experience suggests that men-only clinics are a good way, but not the only way, to attract more male clients.



MEN-FRIENDLY HEALTH SERVICES
 

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Try to avoid embarrassing situations, for example, time spent in public waiting areas. 

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Make it clear that what is said will be confidential. 

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Put leaflets and posters in private areas such as toilets, as well as in public areas, so that men can look at them in private. 

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Many posters on health issues are aimed at women. Make sure that posters or other materials are aimed at men also.

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Make sure that clinic opening times suit men's working hours. 

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Consider providing clinics for men only, or having particular times when services are reserved for men. 

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Services that include practical elements may appeal to men. For example, a source of condoms may attract more men than a general men's clinic. 

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Try to get feedback from men about what they think of the services offered, so that you can improve the services. You could have a suggestions box, or you could ask men to fill in a questionnaire on their way out, or ask them what they feel about the service. 

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Can you offer a 'one-stop shop' for men where all sexual and reproductive health services are provided together in the same place? 
 

Traditional health practitioners are often approached about health issues, especially sexual matters. It is essential that traditional health practitioners are involved in men's sexual health care and education. Some practitioners provide very good support and counselling. Others provide inaccurate information or inappropriate treatment for sexual health issues, or rely on cultural beliefs about sexual health or sexuality which do not respond to men's concerns.



    

 

 

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  Section 3: Effective approaches

Different men, different needs

Boys and young men 
 

In Sierra Leone, this boy goes to a sympathetic older man for information and support.

Many men lack good sex education as boys. Boys and young men need information designed specifically for them, and not just as an add-on to information for girls. 

Boys are curious about their own and girls' bodies from an early age, but adults often ignore or punish this curiosity. Sometimes it is assumed that boys need only factual information. However, most boys want to know about emotional and social issues as much as girls do.

Some people believe that sex education encourages young people to have sex earlier. A recent WHO survey has shown that this is not true. Sex education can help young people to say 'no' to sex until they are ready for it. It also helps young people to use contraception and to protect themselves and their partners against infections.

 
 
Older men 
As men grow older there are gradual changes in their physical and sexual capacity. From their forties onwards, men may have less rigid erections, less ejaculation and fewer erections without direct stimulation. Some men may worry that these changes mean that something is wrong, but they are a normal part of ageing. Many men continue to be interested in sex when they are older, and to have full and happy sexual relationships. 

Older men are often left out of sexual health programmes because it is assumed that they do not have sex. However, it is important to teach older men about HIV and STIs, and problems such as prostate enlargement (see page 40) which affect older men in particular.

 

Nigeria 
Traditional Health
The Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria trains traditional healers, most of whom are men, about contraceptives that do not require a health worker to prescribe them, such as condoms. A two-week participatory course is run for groups of healers. It includes an introduction to reproductive health, male and female bodies, and human reproduction. Teaching methods and counselling skills are also taught, as are ways of involving people through the use of songs, drama and role-plays. This course has become very popular, with nearly 600 healers attending throughout Nigeria. 

The healers gain knowledge and also recognition from modern doctors. Referral is now much more common between the traditional healers and modern health workers. 

Adebolo Adejo, 1996, Africa Link (see Resources page).



Homosexual and bisexual men 
Men who are sexually attracted to other men (homosexual or gay) or to both men and women (bisexual) have the same needs and problems as other men. However, they may face additional problems such as oppression from those in the wider community. Sex between men is often illegal and in most cultures is disapproved of by society. Health services are often unsympathetic or hostile. This can make it harder for gay men to maintain their sexual health and to get the information and support they need. 

Not all gay men have the same lifestyles and sexual practices, nor do gay men necessarily have different practices to heterosexual (straight) men. Some gay men have many sexual partners, but so do many straight men. Anal intercourse may be practised by both gay and straight men.

Men who have sex with men 
Many men have sexual experiences with other men at some point in their lives, without feeling that they are gay or bisexual. Some men may keep their sexuality secret, because they feel that it is shameful, or because they fear disapproval. Men who engage in any sexual activity that is secret are even less likely to come into contact with sexual health services. Some men have sex with other men only when they are away from women - for example, when they are working away from home in an all-male workplace. This is sometimes known as 'opportunistic sex'. They may think that sexual contact with other men is 'not real sex' and so may dismiss the need to think about protection.



    

 

 

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Transgenderism 
'Transgenderism' is the word used for transsexuals and transvestites. A transsexual is a person who is born as one sex (either male or female) and identifies completely as the opposite sex. A transvestite is someone who sometimes dresses as the opposite sex - men dressing in women's clothes or women dressing in men's clothes. 

Transgenderism can happen, for example, if a woman feels that she is a man in every sense except her physical body, and that she has the desires, thoughts and feelings of a man. Sometimes people who feel this way have medical treatment, including surgery, so that their bodies become more like those of the other sex. For instance, men can have their penises removed by surgery, and can grow breasts and become less hairy by taking hormones.

Sex work (prostitution) 
Many men of all ages pay for sex with a sex worker (a woman or man who sells sexual services) for many reasons, for example, when they are without partners, because they are away from home or when their primary relationships are not satisfying. 

Men may wish to have unprotected sex with sex workers. However, many sex workers are aware of the risks of STIs including HIV, and insist on condom use and safer sex. 

Prostitution does not necessarily involve abuse of the prostitute by the client. However, economic pressure and lack of education and civil rights can make sex workers - both men and women - vulnerable to violence, unsanitary conditions and unsafe sex.

Many men report that their first sexual experience is with a sex worker. Sex with a sex worker may provide one of the few opportunities a man will have to learn about sex and safer sexual practices, particularly in communities that are reluctant to provide sexual education and information.


Fathers and fatherhood 
 

In May Pen, young men learn tailoring and other skills, as well as father's responsibilities.

Even when mothers have the main responsibility for looking after children, fathers are an important influence on their sons and daughters. Some fathers would like to be more involved in their children's lives but do not know how, and feel excluded.

 

Jamaica 
From boy to father
The Teenage Mothers Project in May Pen, Jamaica, encourages young fathers to become more involved in their children's upbringing. Inadequate education for family life, unstable family structures and poverty all contribute to teenage pregnancies. Another factor is men's attitudes. Men see themselves as not being involved in bringing up children.

Many young men have no dear ideas about how to bring up boys. The legacy of slavery in Jamaica has played a part in not encouraging men to settle or enter permanent relationships. The plantations needed children and the men were required to produce them. These days, without job security, men are not encouraged to be a permanent part of a household. 

At first there was little support for the project from young men. The project worked hard to make meetings relaxed and informal. The staff ran 'rap' sessions (informal discussion groups), video presentations and question-and-answer sessions. More young men began to attend, and the project launched their 'Male Responsibility Programme: The programme focuses on family-life education, parenting skills, training and personal development, to encourage young men to have a more positive view of the future.

Joyce Jarrett, 'Jamaica: young men becoming responsible fathers'. Bernard van Leer Foundotion Newsletter No. 65, January 1992.



DISCUSSING FATHERHOOD 

Try to:
 

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work with young men to allow them to think about being a father 

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talk to individual men about being a father, and find out more about their feelings 

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encourage men to be more involved in pregnancy and childbirth

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involve men in decisions about their children's health 

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work with women to gain their support and co-operation for men's involvement 

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explore men's feelings about daughters and about sons.

Father and son spending time together.



    

 

 

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ACTIVITY


ME AND MY FATHER

 
This activity aims to help young men reflect on what it is like to be a: son, to enable them to think about being a father in future.

TIME At least one hour:

Read out the following questions to the group. Ask each person in the group to answer in turn, or write the questions on pieces of paper and ask people to discuss them.
 

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How much time do you spend with your father each day?

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If your father is not around is there someone else who does what a father should do? How much time do you spend with him?

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Would you like to spend more time with your father? What would you like to do with him?

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Did you get on better with your father when you were younger?

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How has your relationship changed over the years?

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What is the best thing about your relationship with your father?

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What is the worst thing?

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Are you like your father? 

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How much do you know about your father's life? Do you want to know more?

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Do you want to be a father when you grow up? Why?

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At what age would you like to be a father?

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If you become a father how would you behave differently with your child from the way your own father behaved with you?

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If you were a father what would you enjoy about it?

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What do you think you would find most difficult?


2  When the group has had about 30 minutes to discuss the questions, in the large group discuss any questions or issues which have arisen.

 

USA 
Back to school for fathers
Fathers in New Mexico, USA, usually see themselves as the family wage earner and leave involvement in their children's schooling to women. A project in New Mexico has been trying to get fathers involved in their children's schooling. 

Men often feel inadequate when they have to participate in their children's schooling. 'Am I doing OK?'  they often ask during father-child nights at the Escuelita Alegre pre-school.' I never play like this with my kids. Work feels much easier than this.' It also seems that many men do not become involved because they feel they do not need assistance as fathers, and they are not used to being with other fathers. 

The project has developed the following guidelines, based on their experience of increasing men's involvement.
 

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Make contact with men in person. Assume that the man wants to be a good father.

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Try to recruit mate staff.

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Create special events for fathers. A 'father-child night' is less threatening than a 'men's group:

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Get together in an informal setting, such as a school community centre, and create an informal atmosphere. This allows men to have fun and be more relaxed. Include food!

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Balance discussion with action. Help fathers to play a game or read a story to a child.

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Invite fathers to create their own projects to carry out with their children, which are appropriate to their skills and interests, such as helping to coach football or teach woodwork.

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Organise activities for whole families, as well as just fathers and children.

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Support men who emerge as leaders, because they will come to function as role models for other fathers.


Jim Kavanaugh, 1992, 'Getting Daddy involved', Bernard van Leer Foundation Newsletter No. 65 Januaiy 1992.



    

 

 

 
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