STIs are a significant public health problem in the UK. Here researchers describe young men’s self-reported STI testing behavior and explore why testing is not sought in two locales.

In-depth interviews were conducted with forty men while incarcerated in a Scottish YOI. The participants were purposely sampled using answers from a questionnaire administered to 67 inmates.

The majority of those interviewed reported having undergone STI testing. The extent to which they were worried about STIs and perceived themselves ‘at at risk’ was significant in understanding openness to testing. The convenience of testing within the YOI boosted the numbers seeking testing once incarcerated. Not getting tested in the YOI was due to not realizing that it was available or not getting around to it rather than objecting to, or being embarrassed about, testing.

The study concluded that Increasing awareness of the availability of STI testing within YOIs would be likely to result in higher uptake. An opt-out YOI STI screening program would probably result in very high testing rates. Accessibility and convenience are essential elements of testing procedures for this group, in both the YOI and community settings.