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AIDS Care. 2012;24(4):496-501. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2011.613908. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

"There's evidence that this really works and anything that works is good": views on the introduction of medical male circumcision for HIV prevention in South Africa.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of the Witwatersrand, Durban, South Africa.


Three clinical trials have demonstrated the partial efficacy (40-60%) of surgically conducted medical male circumcision (MMC) in preventing HIV transmission to circumcised men. This research formed part of a larger study exploring the importance of integration of sexual and reproductive health with HIV services. The objective was to elicit key informant views on the introduction of MMC for HIV prevention in South Africa. Twenty-one key informants representing the South African Health Department, local and international NGOs and universities, were asked, via semi-structured interviews about their views on introducing MMC as an HIV prevention strategy in South Africa. Interviews were transcribed and all discussions on MMC were coded for analysis using NVivo 8. The majority of the key informants were knowledgeable about MMC for HIV prevention and felt that making MMC available in South Africa was a good idea, with some recommending immediate introduction. Others felt that MMC should be introduced with caution. Various factors were recommended for consideration, including culture, the impact of circumcision on women, possible increase in sexual risk behaviour from behavioural disinhibition and that MMC may become another vertical health service programme. Most felt that MMC should be undertaken in neonates, however, acknowledged concerns about cultural responses to this. Recommendations on the implementation of MMC ranged from integrating services at primary health care level, to provision by private medical practitioners. In conclusion, MMC is viewed as a key HIV prevention strategy. However, there are numerous factors which could hinder introduction and uptake in South Africa and in the region. It is important to explore and understand these factors and for these to be aligned in the national MMC policy.

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