Sexual health literacy among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men: a conceptual framework for future research

Lisa McDaid, Paul Flowers, Olivier Ferlatte, Ingrid Young, Susan Patterson, Mark Gilbert

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3 Citations (Scopus)
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Good sexual health requires navigating intimate relationships within diverse power dynamics and sexual cultures, coupled with the complexities of increasing biomedicalisation of sexual health. Understanding this is important for the implementation of biomedical HIV prevention. We propose a socially nuanced conceptual framework for sexual health literacy developed through a consensus building workshop with experts in the field. We use rigorous qualitative data analysis to illustrate the functionality of the framework by reference to two complementary studies. The first collected data from five focus groups (FGs) in 2012 (n = 22), with gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men aged 18–75 years and 20 in-depth interviews in 2013 with men aged 19–60 years. The second included 12 FGs in 2014/15 with 55 patients/service providers involved in the use/implementation of HIV self-testing or HIV prevention/care. Sexual health literacy goes well beyond individual health literacy and is enabled through complex community practices and multi-sectoral services. It is affected by emerging (and older) technologies and demands tailored approaches for specific groups and needs. The framework serves as a starting point for how sexual health literacy should be understood in the evaluation of sustainable and equitable implementation of biomedical sexual healthcare and prevention internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Early online date2 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Mar 2020


  • health literacy
  • HIV
  • prevention
  • implementation

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