Sex, Gender and Place: An analysis of youth’s experiences with sexually transmitted infection testing

(November 2005 – September 2007; CIHR)

Principal Investigator(s): Jean Shoveller

Co-Investigator(s): Lorraine Greaves; Joy Johnson; John Oliffe; David Patrick; Mark Rosenberg

Many young men and women experience serious health and social problems related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Despite the public health impetus to conduct testing for common STIs, and the availability of effective treatments for those who test positive for STIs, barriers still exist for some youth when they need to engage in STI testing. For example, Chlamydia rates among youth in BC are above the national average and increasing. While individual risk factors are helpful in explaining part of the this complex population health problem, emerging evidence indicates that social context and structural factors are also important determinants of young people’s sexual health and their utilization of sexual health services such as STI testing.

Purpose: To use ecological theoretical approach to investigate STI testing experiences among youth in three distinct types of communities in British Columbia, Canada.

Research Objectives: 1) To describe youth’s experiences with STI testing in 3 locales: a large urban centre; a mid-sized but geographically isolated city, and a small, rural community; 2) To identify ways in which sex, gender, and place concomitantly affect youth’s experiences with STI testing; 3) To identify and carry out preliminary assessments of strategies to enhance the gender-sensitivity and place-appropriateness of STI testing services for youth.

Ethnographic methods were used to gather data from participants (15-24 yrs old) about their experiences with accessing testing, their motivations to seek or avoid testing, their description of their symptoms and the procedures used to diagnose and treat them. This project was initiated in order to develop a set of recommendations for new strategies to improve STI testing services for young women and men living in diverse place types.

Total: $177,021