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news release

Rebecca Wind

October 27, 2003


Men, like women, have sexual and reproductive health care needs-but how well are these needs being met? The September/October 2003 issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health offers research and opinion on how to bring men into the U.S. sexual and reproductive health care system. Although the articles in this issue highlight a range of barriers-particularly funding constraints and men's lack of awareness of services-they also indicate that carefully designed programs can succeed in reaching men without compromising services for women.

The publicly funded family planning system, originally designed solely for women, is increasingly integrating services for men, according to "Services for Men at Publicly Funded Family Planning Agencies, 1998-1999," by Lawrence Finer et al. of The Alan Guttmacher Institute. By the late 1990s, 87% of agencies providing publicly funded family planning services in the United States served at least some male clients, primarily through condom provision, contraceptive counseling, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Most also expressed interest in serving more men in the future; however, only one in five conducted activities to recruit more men.

Evidence from a San Francisco family planning clinic suggests that programs and services for men can be incorporated into existing family planning programs without negatively affecting female clients, according to "The Other Half of the Equation: Serving Young Men In a Young Women's Reproductive Health Clinic," by Tina Raine of the University of California, San Francisco, Center for Reproductive Health Research & Policy, et al. The clinic designated a weekly half-day clinic session for males and, within a year, nearly tripled its number of adolescent male clients and more than doubled its number of adult male clients. The number of female clients served also increased, by 10%. Female clients completed questionnaires assessing their satisfaction with services and attitudes toward men's being served by the clinic, and the majority surveyed, both before and after the male clinic opened, expressed satisfaction with their care.

"Man2Man: A Promising Approach to Addressing the Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Young Men," by Genevieve Sherrow of the Family Planning Council et al., profiles a program targeting young men in an economically disadvantaged section of Philadelphia with high teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rates. Man2Man, developed through the collaborative efforts of several community groups, uses adult male role models to provide young men with information and support regarding sexual health, disease prevention, child development, relationships with women and fathering skills. The authors report that the program has helped young men to be more emotionally expressive, and it will be expanded to serve young men in other high-risk communities.

Funding constraints mean that in a successful program, demand for men's sexual and reproductive health services can outpace capacity. "The Young Men's Clinic: Addressing Men's Reproductive Health and Responsibilities," by Bruce Armstrong of the Young Men's Clinic, describes the origins and evolution of one of the first community-based programs for men, founded in 1987 in New York City. The Young Men's Clinic provides medical, social work, mental health and health education services to men aged 13-30, and is successfully engaging men of color. Yet because many of the clinic's clients are uninsured and the services offered by the clinic are not always reimbursable, the program faces financial constraints and has been unable to implement additional activities. Demand for existing services is high: Some 5-10 nonemergency walk-in patients have to be turned away and rescheduled during each clinic session.

Also in this issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health:

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