The Problem With Male Sexual/Repro Health: Qualitative/Quantitative Study
Men play a pivotal role in the adoption of currently proven methods of sexual HIV/STI risk reduction, including consistent condom use and male circumcision (MC). Men also influence partners'' use of contraception. However, males have fewer entry points to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services, since most family planning and pregnancy-related programs are woman-centered. Finally, men tend to utilize many health care services less than women; in the case of HIV, these results in delayed treatment, poorer antiretroviral therapy (ART) outcomes, and potentially more HIV transmission. The Rakai Health Sciences Program (RHSP), Uganda, has documented many challenges related to male use of SRH services in the general population of the ongoing Rakai Community Cohort Study (RCCS) - a longitudinal behavioral and HIV study of 50 villages - despite the fact that the RHSP offers services free of charge through PEPFAR. In this RO1, we propose to conduct mixed method qualitative and quantitative research on personal, social and structural facilitators and barriers to the acceptance and use of key SRH-associated services by adolescent and adult men, and to explore attitudes regarding potential approaches to increase SRH use. Qualitative research, conducted among male users and non-users of services, family (e.g., spouses, parents) and community members (e.g., influential peers, service providers), will include focus groups to examine community norms; and in-depth interviews to explore personal factors, social influences and perceived structural barriers (such as quality of services) which influence use of SRH. We will also conduct structured observations in service provision sites to identify venue-related obstacles and in other community settings to examine if selected services may be provided there. The qualitative research will be embedded within the RCCS, providing a unique opportunity to purposively enroll male participants on the basis of risk behaviors and service use/nonuse, and to explore social and familial contexts of and influences on male SRH behaviors. On the basis of FGD and IDI data, we will also design and incorporate a module on male SRH into the annual RCCS survey of ~14,000 adults, in order to examine the generalizability of the qualitative findings in the Rakai population and to determine the distribution of key attitudes, perceptions and behaviors. This RO1 will provide the most comprehensive information to date on barriers to and potential motivators of male SRH service acceptance/use in an African setting, and will inform the design of future intervention studies of community and clinic-based strategies to improve male uptake of services such as condoms, MC, family planning, and for HIV+ men, ART. Findings, which will be disseminated in the African region, will also have implications for improving male use of other health and preventive services.