Background: Because male circumcision has been linked to a lower risk of HIV infection, it is advocated tentatively as a possible preventive intervention. Most studies, however, have relied on men's self-reports of their circumcision status.
Goal: To document varied techniques of male circumcision in one area of Kenya and the visible results.
Study design: Researchers interviewed men who had performed or undergone various forms of circumcision. They also did genital observations on a subsample of respondents.
Results: All the men reported undergoing circumcision during adolescence, and most were able to tell which technique was used. According to the circumcisers, in type A, approximately 4 cm of the prepuce is removed; in type B, 1 to 2 cm of the prepuce and some of its inner surface are removed. Types A and B result in the same genital appearance. In type C, 1 to 2 cm of the prepuce and some of the inner surface are removed. The remaining prepuce is slit and suspended below the penile shaft.
Conclusions: Asking a man "Are you circumcised?" is not sufficient. Classifying his circumcision status requires both a genital examination and an understanding of the precise local surgical techniques used. Even in a small geographic area, considerable variety may exist in the techniques of cutting, removing, altering, or leaving different portions of the foreskin. Each variation may affect the transmission of HIV and other infections.