Objectives: To study the prevalence, type, social correlates and attitudes towards female genital cutting (FGC) among urban women in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; and to examine the association between FGC and gynaecological problems, reproductive tract infections (RTIs) and HIV.
Methods: In 1999, 379 women attending reproductive health care clinics were interviewed and underwent pelvic examination. Specimens for RTI/HIV diagnosis were taken.
Results: Seventeen per cent had undergone FGC, mostly clitoridectomy (97%). Female genital cutting prevalence was significantly lower among educated, Christian and Chagga women. Women aged >or=35 were twice as likely to be cut as those < 25 years. Seventy-six per cent of those who had undergone FGC intend not to perform the procedure on their daughters. Age < 25 years (P < 0.0001) and low parity (P < 0.01) were predictors of that intention. There was no association between RTIs, HIV or hepatitis B and FGC.
Conclusion: FGC is still fairly common but there is evidence of a change of attitude towards the practice, especially among young women. The opportunity to educate women who attend reproductive health care facilities on FGC should be taken.