Male Circumcision and HIV Infection Among Sexually Active Men in Malawi

BMC Public Health. 2015 Oct 13;15:1051. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2384-z.


Background: The HIV epidemic remains a major health challenge all over the world. In 2013, an estimated 35million people were living with HIV globally. Male circumcision is increasingly being adopted as a method of HIV prevention. WHO and UNAIDS have advised that male circumcision be added to current HIV interventions. Malawi is one of the countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS with a prevalence rate of 11 % and male circumcision prevalence of 21.6 % in 2010. Prior to 2011, traditional male circumcision in Malawi was the dominant form of male circumcision, mainly for cultural and religious reasons. This paper looks at male circumcision as a prevention method against HIV by examining the relationship between male circumcision and HIV status among Malawian men.

Methods: The data used were collected as part of the 2010 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey. The methodology used in the 2010 MDHS has been comprehensively described by the National Statistical Office of Malawi and ICF Macro. Our analysis is based on men aged 15-54 years who were tested for HIV and responded to questions on circumcision during the survey. Sixty one percent of the 7175 men interviewed in the MDHS, qualified for this analysis. The sample was weighted to ensure representativeness. Frequencies, cross-tabulations, univariate and multivariate logistic regressions were conducted. Differences in the prevalence of HIV infection among circumcised and uncircumcised men were determined with Chi-squared tests.

Results: There is no significant difference in HIV prevalence between circumcised (12 %) and uncircumcised men (10 %). Among circumcised men, age and number of lifetime partners are the dominant correlates of HIV status. Additionally, circumcised men who have had ritual sex are two times more likely (OR = 2.399) to be HIV+ compared to circumcised men who have never had ritual sex.

Conclusion: This study has demonstrated that traditional male circumcision was not associated with HIV infection in pre-2010 Malawi. Among circumcised men, age and number of lifetime partners are correlates to HIV status while circumcised men who have had ritual sex are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than circumcised men who have not had ritual sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Circumcision, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Malawi / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Young Adult