Culturally-Competent Healthcare for Young Gay Men Needed

In 2010, gay and bisexual men accounted for 63% of new HIV infections, and from 2008 to 2010, new HIV infections increased 22% among young gay and bisexual men overall.

But as my colleagues and I have noted before, HIV should be understood as one of the many intersecting and mutually reinforcing health challenges gay men face. This includes STDs other than HIV, as well as substance use, mental health challenges and violence. These are all issues health-care providers must and should address if we are to provide young gay men with the best care possible.

This means that health-care providers need to view the health of young gay men within a broader context of personal health and not solely defined by HIV. But this often doesn’t happen.

It also reinforces the importance of culturally competent healthcare in which these young men can talk openly about their sexuality and health, without being judged, and where providers are fully knowledgeable about the myriad health issues these men face.

Young Men Aren’t Getting the Healthcare They Need

I am the principal investigator for the P18 Cohort Study, an investigation of young men who have sex with men, whom we have been tracking since they turned 18. We have found that these young men face a number challenges getting the healthcare they need.

When we assessed these young men at the onset of the study (ages 18-19), only half of our sample reported a recent sexual health screening, and only 16% reported a rectal screening in their lifetimes, yet all were sexually active. For sexually active men, such screenings should be routine.

This article originally appeared on MPR