Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision among Rwanda Defense Force Members

Curr HIV Res. 2017;15(2):109-115. doi: 10.2174/1570162X15666170517095733.


Introduction: Strong scientific evidence supports voluntary medical male circumcision as part of an overall HIV prevention strategy, but self-report information on circumcision status may be inaccurate. The study objectives were to obtain estimates of male circumcision within the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF), to assess the ability of soldiers to correctly report their own circumcision status, and to document the uptake of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) in the RDF.

Methods: Data were collected from members of the Rwandan military during their annual physical examination. A self-administered questionnaire collected demographic and circumcision characteristics. Self-reported circumcision status was compared with the medical exam evaluation.

Results: Using questionnaires with complete data (n = 579), 69% of the study participants were circumcised by physical examination and there was a strong agreement with self-reported circumcision status (κ = 0.97). Almost half (44%) of all circumcisions had been performed within the past 2 years.

Discussion: These results suggest that self-report is an appropriate method to collect information on circumcision status in the Rwandan military. Many of the circumcisions occurred within the last 2 years, possibly as an effect of the successful scale-up of voluntary medical male circumcision in the Rwandan military utilizing effective messaging, demand creation, and positive news reported by the media.

Keywords: Accuracy; HIV prevention; Rwanda; VMMC uptake; male circumcision; self-report.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Circumcision, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*
  • Rwanda
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult