During Men's Health Week 2010, the Dutch Society for Sexual Medicine (WVSD) will once again be taking to the streets with its famous erection truck.
The initiative to raise awareness of erectile dysfunction (ED) began in 2008 and according to a recent report has attracted considerable interest.
In 2008, the WVSD launched an information campaign in the Netherlands with the title Health in movement – the erection truck. Urologist Dr Cobi Reisman, one of the team behind the idea, takes up the story: 'All the participants agreed that no drug names would be mentioned and passers-by would get information leaflets on ED. People who needed specific information would receive a free consultation from the urologist/sexologist and nurse practitioner in a private room in the truck.
'Visitors to the truck fill out a questionnaire on their general health and possible risk factors (alcohol, smoking, drugs). Free consultation in the truck will include specific information about complaints and risk behavior, but no drug prescriptions are given.'
A public relation agency was recruited to manage the awareness campaign. 'This part was essential for getting sufficient publicity. After announcements in different press agencies (ANP) and newspapers, the campaign was launched in the second week of June 2008. In the five biggest cities of the Netherlands the truck was situated in the centre of the cities. The locations were chosen where high number of passers-by are expected, but with less bystanders around,' said Dr Reisman. 'The majority of the consultations were given to middle-aged man with moderate to severe ED. Risk factors like obesity, smoking and reduced amount of exercise style were detected in about 70% of the participants.'
The media coverage of the event was enormous. More than 20 television programmes covered the event, the internet was loaded with film and written material and seven newspapers devoted columns, editorials or articles to ED and health behavior.
Men ashamed to go to doctor
The inititive was particularly important because a large number of patients with ED do not seek treatment. 'It seems that the threshold which one must take to go to the doctor is still high,' said Dr Reisman. 'Due to the existence of preconceptions, patients hardly express sexual problems and accept lower quality of life because they are ashamed. As a result, they do not visit their doctor. Many patients start medication which they prescribe by their own, often purchased through the internet.
'A recent study by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) shows that the risks to public health associated with illegal erectogenic drugs in the recent years have broadened. Currently, consumers are no longer able to distinguish between counterfeit and genuine medicines and the nowadays trustworthy appearance of imitations may cause potential consumers to underestimate the risk to their health by taking illegal medicines. A high health risk is posed by the increased use of potent active substances, mixtures thereof, and the rising number of active substances in adulterated herbal aphrodisiacs that have no known safety or toxicological profile (analogs).'
The erection truck took to the streets agin in 2009 and is scheduled to appear during Men's Health Week 2010. 'The concept will be as in 2009 with minor changes concerning the look and arrangements of the truck,' said Dr Reisman. 'The number of participating cities will increase. Furthermore, information gathering events for the public, in different hospitals and with different men’s health topics, will be arranged.'
Keep on trucking.