The authors conducted a cross-sectional study using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Participants included 38 unmarried rural men in four focus-group discussions and a representative sample of 316 similarly profiled men, ages 17-22 years. Information was collected via survey on the men's socioeconomic characteristics; awareness, knowledge, and perceptions of family planning; attitudes toward future contraceptive use; intra-family communication; knowledge about STIs/HIV/AIDS; and access and use of condoms. Content analysis for qualitative information and descriptive analysis for survey data were used to draw conclusions. Young, unmarried, rural Indian men's sexual and reproductive health (SRH) knowledge is limited, although the majority is familiar with condoms (99%). The young men identified electronic mass media (67%) as the prime source of reproductive health information, yet they lacked detailed knowledge of various contraceptives and felt ignored by health providers, who, they felt, would be capable of providing SRH information through interpersonal communication. Young men are more concerned about avoiding infections and securing sexual pleasure and less concerned about avoiding potential pregnancies. For example, 68% of the young men were aware of condoms and their role in preventing acquisition of HIV and AIDS, but only about two-fifths mentioned condom use to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Although most young men (96%) knew where to access a condom, they felt uncomfortable or embarrassed doing so in their own villages or close by because of socio-cultural norms that prevented them from using contraceptives. Very few respondents (4%) disclosed using condoms themselves, but 59% said they knew someone from their peer group who had used them. The authors conclude that unmarried men in rural India are underserved with regard to SRH information and services, because they are not recognized as key targets under the public health system. It is important that programmers involve young men with effective communication strategies to enable them to act responsibly with regard to their own sexual health needs.
BMC Public Health 11 2011
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