Analysis of sexual health projects in the Estonian Defence Forces, carried out by the Estonian Anti-AIDS Association in 1998, 2002/2003.
Ester Väljaots firstname.lastname@example.org
Aare Raudsepp email@example.com
More than half of the HIV-infected population age group of 13-25 years comprises men. The average life expectancy at the time of birth is 65.4 years for Estonian men and 76.1 years for Estonian women. The figures are 77.1 and 81.9 years in Sweden, respectively. The mortality rate of Estonian men due to accidents in the age group of 15-24 years is 10 times as high as that in Sweden. The mortality rate due to heart diseases among Estonian men is the second highest in the entire world, the suicide figures are as depressing.
The aim of the workshops was to decrease risk behaviour among young Estonian men. In workshops, interactive methods were used.
In our work we analysed the results of four exercises, and the feedback sheets that the participants had filled out. The four exercises were: 1) anonymous written questions and opinions in order to specify the topics discussed in the workshop; 2) arranging sex biographies into the correct order on the basis of the HIV-risk; 3) vocabulary (synonyms were obtained in the Defence Forces, female groups and mixed gender teenage groups); 4) generating messages related to sexuality and love for the age of 0-6 years and 60 years or more.
1) During the four-hour workshop men wanted to discuss the following topics: a) sexuality and sex; b) HIV/AIDS and diseases; c) love; d) relationships.
2) Only 1/5 of the groups managed to arrange sexual biographies in the correct order, remaining unprejudiced while doing that. The same exercise carried out in mixed gender teenage groups (age 12-18) gave the same result.
3) The vocabulary exercise gave 235 synonyms for male genitalia, 203 for female genitalia and 241 for sexual intercourse. As compared to the female genitalia, the male ones have more names which are more positive in their meaning and less medical or scientific than those of the female genitalia.
4) The messages about sexuality and love for the age of 0-6 years generated in small male groups differed from those generated by women mainly because they did not contain prohibitions and did not call for a person to be ashamed of his gender.
The messages for the age of 60 years and more generated in small male groups were significantly different from those generated by women. The category generally called "Pass away and loss" was three times more frequent in men than in women, and the category "Activity and joy of living" was over two times more frequent in women than in men.
5) Giving feedback, men noted that they most liked the open way of communicating.
Estonian men differ from Estonian women mainly in their vision about their future. They are influenced by the public expectation that men do not survive until the age of retirement and besides, it is bad to be old. These presuppositions encourage risk behaviour.
Sexual health is a part of overall health and relates to valuing healthy lifestyle. Valuing healthy lifestyle relates, in turn, to one's own belief that (s)he as a person is valued and needed.
What can be done to make the life of a man over 60 seem more livable to young Estonian men than it seems to them now?
How can we change the wide-spread credo: "Live fast, die young?"