Perceptions and knowledge of voluntary medical male circumcision for HIV prevention in traditionally non-circumcising communities in South Africa

Glob Public Health. 2015;10(5-6):692-707. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2015.1014825. Epub 2015 Mar 2.


Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) has been recommended for the prevention of HIV transmission, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Uptake of the campaign has been relatively poor, particularly in traditionally non-circumcising regions. This study evaluates the knowledge, attitudes and practices of medical male circumcision (MC) of 104 community members exposed to promotional campaigns for VMMC for five years. Results show that 93% of participants have heard of circumcision and 72% have heard of some health benefit from the practice. However, detailed knowledge of the relationship with HIV infection is lacking: 12.2% mistakenly believed you could not get HIV after being circumcised, while 75.5% believe that a circumcised man is still susceptible and another 12.2% do not know of any relationship between HIV and MC. There are significant barriers to the uptake of the practice, including misperceptions and fear of complications commonly attributed to traditional, non-medical circumcision. However, 88.8% of participants believe circumcision is an acceptable practice, and community-specific promotional campaigns may increase uptake of the service.

Keywords: HIV; South Africa; circumcision; prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Circumcision, Male / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / epidemiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / transmission*
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires