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Engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in primary care settings

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To the Editor: It is well recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are one of the most disadvantaged population groups in Australia in terms of physical wellbeing.1 Annual Medicare Benefits Schedule health assessment items are essential tools to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men (and women and children) receive primary health care matched to their needs, as well as opportunities for preventive health care and education.

A growing body of evidence suggests that erectile dysfunction (ED) coexists with, or is a clinical marker for, other common life-threatening conditions, such as coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes, due to shared underlying neurovascular mechanisms.2 Indeed, the relative risk and severity of coronary artery disease appears to be higher for young men reporting ED.3 Despite this, discussion with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men about sexual health is often lacking. In such population groups at risk of chronic disease, the opportunity to assess erectile function may present a window of opportunity to identify and better manage life-threatening disease.2

To engage these men in sexual health discussions, a greater focus on culturally appropriate health services is needed. Cultural competency training is essential to…