Healing traditions and men's sexual health in Mumbai, India: The realities of practiced medicine in urban poor communities
Schensul,Stephen L.; Mekki-Berrada,Abdelwahed; Nastasi,Bonnie K.; Saggurti,Niranjan; Verma,Ravi K.
Social Science and Medicine 62(11): 2774-2785
Publication date: 2006
Men's pre- and extra-marital sexual behavior has been identified as the primary factor in the growing HIV/STI epidemic among both males and females in India. One major barrier to reaching men has been their underutilization of public health services, which has severely limited programs geared to prevention and early case identification. A significant number of men in India have strong culturally-based sexual health concerns, much of which are derived from "semen-loss" and deficiencies in sexual performance. This paper reports on an ongoing Indo-US project that has focused on men's concerns about sexual health problems and assesses the services provided by non-allopaths in three low-income communities in Mumbai. Findings indicate that the primary health resources for these men are private, community-based non-allopaths, who identify themselves as ayurvedic, unani and homeopathic providers. The paper suggests that the combination of strong culturally-based sexual health concerns and the presence of private non-allopaths who manage these problems present a window of opportunity for intervention programs to address the challenge of HIV/STI prevention and early case identification in India.