Wednesday, March 12, 2008
While STIs are prevalent in both women and men, support and information needs must be assessed and delivered according to the specific needs and sensitivities of each group.
To improve and develop more tailored STI programs by better understanding the topics of greatest concern to women and men using ASHA's electronic STI message board forums, a service that currently has more than 3,600 posts from over 2,000 registered users.
Questions posted to the message boards between December 2006 and October 2007 from clients who self-identified as female or male were evaluated and data were quantitatively analyzed.
Client's concerns most often included transmission, testing, natural history, psychosocial aspects, symptoms and risk reduction. Themes that emerged included women more often seeking support around relationship issues, and men asking questions about symptoms and STI acquisition through oral sex. Both genders frequently expressed apprehension over partner communication.
Women have similar, but not identical, issues to address with STIs as men, and both genders need resources for education and guidance.
High STI prevalence coupled with media coverage and direct-to-consumer advertising will likely keep STI topics prominently in front of the lay public. Whether as patients or partners, men and women have questions about both the medical and psychosocial impact of an STI diagnosis. There is a need for materials and services (such as those provided by ASHA) tailored to each group to address what will likely be expanding demand for STI education and counseling.