Women's roles in voluntary medical male circumcision in Nyanza Province, Kenya

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44825. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044825. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Women are an important audience for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) communication messages so that they know that VMMC provides only partial protection against HIV. They may also be able to influence their male partners to get circumcised and practice other HIV protective measures after VMMC. This study was conducted in two phases of qualitative data collection. Phase 1 used in-depth interviews to explore women's understanding of partial protection and their role in VMMC. Phase 2 built on the findings from the Phase 1, using focus groups to test VMMC communication messages currently used in Nyanza Province and to further explore women's roles in VMMC. Sixty-four sexually active women between the ages of 18 and 35 participated. In Phase 1, all women said they had heard of partial protection, though some were not able to elaborate on what the concept means. When women in Phase 2 were exposed to messages about partial protection, however, participants understood the messages well and were able to identify the main points. In Phases 1 and 2, many participants said that they had discussed VMMC with their partner, and for several, it was a joint decision for the man to go for VMMC. These findings suggest that current VMMC messaging is reaching women, though communications could more effectively target women to increase their ability to communicate about partial HIV protection from VMMC. Also, women seem to be playing an important role in encouraging men to get circumcised, so reaching out to women could be a valuable intervention strategy for increasing VMMC uptake and promoting use of other HIV protective measures after VMMC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circumcision, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Voluntary Programs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This study and manuscript preparation was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through a grant to FHI 360 to form the Male Circumcision Consortium (MCC). The MCC is a partnership between FHI 360, University of Illinois at Chicago working with the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, and EngenderHealth. The MCC works with the Government of Kenya and other partners to prevent HIV by expanding access to safe and voluntary male circumcision services. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.