Women's Perspectives On Male Circumcision As HIV Prevention Method

Armen Hareyan's picture

PlusNews/Mail & Guardian on Wednesday examined women's perspectives on male circumcision as an HIV prevention method. Informal discussions with women "reveal a range of concerns, preferences and views" that governments and researchers should consider before planning a national circumcision program, PlusNews/Mail & Guardian reports (PlusNews/Mail & Guardian, 6/20). According to final data from two NIH-funded studies -- conducted in Uganda and Kenya and published in the Feb. 23 issue of the journal Lancet -- routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by 65%. The results of the Uganda and Kenya studies mirrored similar results of a study conducted in South Africa in 2005.


In response to the findings, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS in March recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce transmission of the virus through heterosexual sex (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/19). According to PlusNews/Mail & Guardian, some women expressed ambivalence about a male circumcision campaign, while other women were concerned that it could "give men one more excuse not to use condoms."

However, studies have found that women are more accepting of male circumcision than men are, PlusNews/Mail & Guardian reports. Women also could play a role in motivating their husbands to be circumcised, according to Yassa Piere, a virologist at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia.

In order to successfully introduce male circumcision as an HIV prevention method, programs should work within traditional approaches that view the procedure as "transformative," Rachel Jewkes, head of the gender and health unit of South Africa's Medical Research Council, said. She added that she sees male circumcision programs as a good opportunity to engage men in discussions about safer sex and gender equity. "The critical thing is that male engagement in HIV prevention must not stop at the surgical knife," Jewkes said, adding, "Circumcision programs must be accompanied by gender-transformative approaches to HIV prevention" (PlusNews/Mail & Guardian, 6/20).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.