November is Men’s Health Awareness Month and the perfect time to make your well-being a priority.
If you identify as a man, you may already know that comprehensive, compassionate care is the key to feeling your best. But where can you find the right treatment or even the right doctor? Although prioritizing health is important, there is still much to be learned about specialized treatment for men and the barriers that prevent them from getting it. To help us understand why men struggle to find quality health care, like PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), we talked to Terry Hackworth, MBA, MSN, NP-C, AAHIVS, a nurse practitioner at AvitaCare Atlanta. Here’s what they had to say.
Specialized care for men
“We serve patients of all ages and backgrounds. All of them are looking for specialized, affirming, inclusive care that they have not received elsewhere.”
Medical care is incredibly personal. Today’s patients want a care team who will listen, understand, and empathize with their unique needs. They also trust that their doctors are well-versed in all issues relating to their overall health, which includes sexual wellness and HIV prevention. With 81 percent of new HIV diagnoses experienced among men, preventing HIV is even more necessary among this group. Despite this need, many of Terry’s patients visit the clinic after having a negative experience with their former primary care provider.
Surprisingly, “half of general care physicians say they don’t know enough about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to discuss with patients,” according to a recent survey. This suggests that there is still more work to be done by general care physicians to understand the options available for patients to prevent the spread of HIV.
“Many of my patients want to get on PrEP,” says Terry. “During our conversation, they will often mention that a former PCP did not know about PrEP, would not prescribe it, or didn’t want to talk about it. Some will also say they simply didn’t feel comfortable talking to their PCP about their sexual health status or their sexuality.”
Providing PrEP in Atlanta
Providers at AvitaCare Atlanta are certified American Academy of HIV Specialists and are specifically trained to prescribe PrEP and address sexual wellness concerns. Additionally, the AvitaCare Atlanta clinic provides primary care, HIV treatment, PrEP, mental health services, and more comprehensive health services to Atlanteans. Treatment options for people assigned male at birth include:
- STI testing and treatment
- Testosterone therapy for testosterone deficiency
- BPH treatment (Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that can make urination difficult)
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment
- Prostate cancer screenings
- General physical examinations
- Mental health services
Learn more about AvitaCare Atlanta.
Men’s Health Month Includes Prioritizing Mental Health
6 million men each year experience depression, but only eight percent of American men sought therapy, as opposed to 12 percent of American women. Terry thinks the hesitancy men have about receiving mental health support centers around conditioning. “Men are taught to be strong and resilient,” says Terry, “but this sometimes leads them to bottling in their emotions until they hit a breaking point instead of talking through issues as they arise.”
He goes on to say, “Unfortunately, people who are assigned male at birth are more hesitant to talk about mental health and less likely to seek specific treatment for it. But once we build a relationship with them, we see more openness to suggestions for more treatment and care.” AvitaCare Atlanta’s behavioral health team provides convenient, comprehensive care for those impacted by mental health. One patient described their care, saying, “I never feel doubted when I ask for the care I need. Hackworth and all the staff at AbsoluteCare are kind and respectful.”
Men’s Health Month And Your Physical Well-Being
With each patient who is assigned male at birth, Terry takes time to educate patients about warning signs for testicular cancer starting in their 20s.
Terry says, “We offer patients testicular cancer screening, teach them how to do self-examination, and explain what happens if they have an abnormal screen. If they have an abnormal exam or feel a nodule, we help them find resources, order x-rays, conduct an ultrasound, find out if they need more support, and send them to radiology for evaluation and treatment.”
Terry works through self-exam steps and prevention methods with each patient, creating a safe environment. The goal is to make patients feel comfortable enough to ask questions like, “Who is at risk? Do I need to be worried? What options are available to me?”
Take the next step.
This men’s health month, getting the specialized health care you need unlocks your potential so you can live your life to the fullest. If you identify as a man and live in Atlanta, please consider becoming a patient of AvitaCare. We look forward to providing you with the compassionate, community-driven care you deserve. Make an appointment online or call for more information.