Background: Data from traditionally circumcising communities show that non-circumcised males and those circumcised in the medical settings are stigmatised. This is because traditional circumcision embodies local notions of bravery as anaesthetics are not used. This study was conducted to assess the acceptability of safe medical circumcision before the onset of sexual activity for HIV infection risk reduction in a traditionally circumcising community in Tanzania.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among males and females aged 18-44 years in traditionally circumcising communities of Tarime District in Mara Region, North-eastern Tanzania. A face-to-face questionnaire was administered to females to collect information on the attitudes of women towards circumcision and the preferred age for circumcision. A similar questionnaire was administered to males to collect information on socio-demographic, preferred age for circumcision, factors influencing circumcision, client satisfaction, complications and beliefs surrounding the practice.
Results: Results were available for 170 males and 189 females. Of the males, 168 (98.8%) were circumcised and 61 (36.3%) of those circumcised had the procedure done in the medical setting. Of those interviewed, 165 (97.1%) males and 179 (94.7%) females supported medical male circumcision for their sons. Of these, 107 (64.8%) males and 130 (72.6%) females preferred prepubertal medical male circumcision (12 years or less). Preference for prepubertal circumcision was significantly associated with non-Kurya ethnic group, circumcision in the medical setting and residence in urban areas for males in the adjusted analysis. For females, preference for prepubertal circumcision was significantly associated non-Kurya ethnic group and being born in urban areas in the adjusted analysis.
Conclusions: There is a shift of preference from traditional male circumcision to medical male circumcision in this traditionally circumcising population. However, this preference has not changed the circumcision practices in the communities because of the community social pressure. Male circumcision national program should take advantage of this preference of medical male circumcision by introducing safe and affordable circumcision services and mobilising communities in a culturally sensitive manner to take up circumcision services.