Men are notoriously reticent to talk about their health, and that mistaken machismo certainly applies to speaking-up about antibiotic resistant infections. But now a new Facebook group offers them the chance to talk freely and confidentially about conditions such as drug-resistant bladder infections and MRSA. PETER GIBSON explains more…
Mental health, sexual health and now it seems, antibiotic resistant infections. We fellas simply do not speak up when we face major health issues. Which can lead to ultimately calamitous consequences.
According to two studies by news site IFL Science, males who have a “traditional cultural script about masculinity and believe they must be brave” are more reluctant to go to the doctor. And when they get there, they won’t be honest with the GP – unless they too are male! (1)
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised then, that when we opened a private forum for sufferers of drug resistant infections, the women engaged, and the men did not.
Females have been talking freely on our Chronic Infection Support Group page about re-occurring urinary tract infections, drug resistant chest infections etc. etc. which has enabled them to reassure one another, signpost to services and dismiss the myth that you are alone.
Sadly, just one gent has signed-up.
No shame in engaging
Urinary tract and sexually transmitted infections can be embarrassing to talk about. Then there is that entirely wrong stigma that drug resistant infections (or superbugs) are somehow shameful and your own fault. Perhaps the fact that you have tried antibiotics over and over again and they haven’t worked also makes some think they look weak?
It is all nonsense. And dangerous nonsense at that.
Society already has a laissez-faire attitude to antibiotic-resistance. And the current (and understandable) preoccupation with COVID-19 has not helped either, even though there have been mortalities from secondary bacterial infections in those treated in hospital for the virus (2). Patients diagnosed with a drug resistant infection probably wouldn’t have heard it called that, or indeed received information on what such an infection is, and how it could impact on your life.
A service just for you
That is why our Patient Support scheme, the first of its kind in the world, is so vital. From its web resources on everything from skin and soft tissue to urinary tract infections and sepsis, to its expertly staffed telephone and email services and of course its Facebook page, it is the one-stop-shop for patients living with drug-resistant infections.
But the Patient Support service is only effective if people actually engage with it.
We need an openness about men’s health in general and that ethos also applies to antibiotic resistant infections. Speaking about it and sharing experience and helping yourself and others is a great example of strength and certainly beats not only suffering in ignorance and silence but also dying from sepsis which can happen in just a few hours if not treated promptly (see https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/blood-and-lymph/sepsis).
Learn more about how our Patient Support service can help you at https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/find-support/
To apply to join our Facebook Chronic Infection Support Group, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChronicInfectionSupportGroup