Issue No. 10
Health Advice That Teenage Boys NeedDate: October 20, 2010
Teenage boys are not receiving sufficient sexual health counseling.
According to a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers, only 21 percent of sexually active boys had discussed HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with their health care providers.
The problem isn’t merely that boys are more reluctant than girls to ask questions. Lead study author Arik Marcell, M.D., M.P.H., says boys don’t encounter the same health care “triggers” that girls do.
“Girls are coming in to see their doctors for contraceptive use and reproductive care,” he says. Boys, on the other hand, don’t typically seek care for their sexual health, and even when they do visit medical facilities their doctors are not initiating the conversations.
Marcell says consistent guidelines are needed for providing sexual health care to boys, and providers need to be trained and comfortable in offering reproductive health services to young women and men.
“I don’t think boys understand the importance of the sexual health visit,” Marcell says. “But there are a core set of services young men should receive, including a review of their sexual histories, screening for STIs and HIV, counseling in STI prevention, a genital exam and making sure all their vaccines are up to date.”