In this installment of Our Stories, final year Information Technology student states his knowledge on the importance of regular checkup however the fear of actual discovery keeps him from doing so… For many people, Jamaica is pictured as an island paradise – white sandy beaches, a beautiful and vivacious culture, rich and wholesome food and attractive people. And while that image is not far from the truth, if the lens is focused on the inspirational stories of ordinary Jamaicans, you would find a sharper, richer and truer image of the Jamaican experience… this is Our Stories!

The so-called male ‘macho-ism’ influences the belief that men do not need to visit the doctor often. This is a belief shared by many Jamaican men. Why is that we wonder? There are always two sides to this story. It is either played off as there is no need to go to the doctor as if it’s not broken, nothing is wrong or going to the doctor is seen as being weak. To clarify the notation a little, let us dibble into the mind of none other than a man.

Alex admits that he rarely visits the doctor because he is fearful and he acknowledges the stigma of feeling inferior at the doctor’s office. Is this stigma contributing to a larger health issue among Jamaican men? Our interview will answer this question.

Meet Alex Bailey- Final Year Student in Information Technology

Photo credit Shutterstock Shutter stock picture representing 22 year old Alex Bailey

Why are you fearful to visit the doctor?

I have never experienced it, but I’m always nervous as to what they might find, due to the fact that I don’t eat very well in terms of eating healthy, I just find the closest thing or the easiest thing to make and call it a day. So due to that, I’m anxious whenever I do a checkup, I may develop some sickness from the lack of proper nutrients and or sometimes when I eat very late. Before in some cases, you’re not aware of anything unless you do your checkup.

When was the last time you went to the doctor?

About two weeks ago

Very recent! How was your last experience at the doctor’s office?

Well, my last visit was not bad at all; it involved a urine test, regular procedure such as checking my eyes and ears, and my breathing. Nothing major.

What was your reason for that doctor’s visit?

Medical for drivers test.

Photo credit Shutterstock

Tell me more about the stigma of men feeling inferior visiting the doctor. 

Yes, I believe in that stigma because when it comes to males going to do their medical, some don’t want to do it. Why? Because when it comes to medical, doctors will do certain things. Not sure if I should be telling you this but I believe females do something similar. In terms of medical, doctors will tell the male to take off their pants and check to see if their foreskin can rollover. This is done especially at school medicals. Some Jamaicans will say no that gay,me nah do that. So that’s one reason why men do not want to go to the doctor because they fear a man telling them to drop their pants.  Man nuh deh pon that.

As it relates to my friends, most of my friends will go to the doctor because they know it is mandatory, at first they will be against it but eventually will do it.

You know when man and man a talk they will say them nah do it, a gay thing. But in reality they will do it, they can’t go around it.

So I have to ask, would you do the prostate examination?

I would definitely not want to do a prostate test but I don’t have to worry because it is normally done for men 40 years and older. If it is a must I would bear it.

I recommend a prostate test to be done as it checks for cancer of the prostate which is one of the most common cancers found in men.

I agree with you. Let’s shift focus a bit and talk about STDs. Do you think you know enough about STDs/STIs?

No, there is not enough on these. I would only see a lot of information during health month or week as there are flyers at every corner. Other than that, the information would be at a health facility.

Now in modern days, we are able to type in our symptoms on Google for our diagnosis then go to the doctor with our research and if he or she agrees to it, the medication is prescribed for that diagnosis. That has become our reality.

Wow! How are you able to decipher your symptoms with no medical knowledge?

After self-evaluation of the known symptoms I have experienced, I begin to do my research online to determine the possible solutions; however, in some instances the symptoms listed for that disease I claim to have, I may not experience that particular one. Therefore what I always do is to tell the doctor about the research and the symptoms that come along with that disease, and then right there I will get a more professional answer. Even though I’ve done my research at the end of the day I’m not a doctor, so I may tell the doctor to prescribe a certain medication not knowing if it will cause another infection inside.

Have you ever self-evaluated for symptoms of an STD/STI?

Never, I have only done research on symptoms for general illnesses or popular sicknesses.

Interesting, why haven’t you?

Not sexually active at the moment and I always use a condom.

Are you aware of any STD/STI’s that can be transmitted even with the use of a condom?

I’m not. Is there?

I’m glad you asked. To state two are HPV and Trichomoniasis.

Do you know them?

I think I heard the T-word before, don’t remember where or what it is.

As For HPV, I think it’s mostly gay, or male that enjoys anal, they just like foreign object in their bottom hole. That’s just what I heard but I know it’s an anal thing though

Photo credit Shutterstock

Okay, I can see that you are unfamiliar with these STI/STDs. Would you like to know more about unusual STI/STDs publicly?

Yes and I believe the health care personnel or representatives could use the concept of that of the Jehovah Witness where the information is shared door to door.

Wonderful Suggestion! I know many young men like yourself are fearful to visit the doctor especially for regular check-ups, how do you believe we can stem the stigma?

With the current generation, where everything is digital and that we have access to all sorts of information online. The more efficient way of actually spreading the information on STDs around is through social media ads. Another more popular way for us young men to learn about the various diseases; their causes and symptoms and treatment is through some TV series, such as The Good Doctor, New Amsterdam, etc. These are ways people will get younger audiences to be aware of these diseases.

Alternatives to this method the government could use is a daily health seminar(not sure if this had already been done but yea), similar to how they would have their big conference whenever an election is near to get votes, they could do a health version of it, to spread knowledge unto the younger generations.

Thank you so much for your time and input, Alex!