Male circumcision: an acceptable strategy for HIV prevention in Botswana
- 1The Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership, Private Bag BO 320, Bontleng, Gaborone, Botswana
- 2The Botswana Ministry of Health, Private Bag 0038, Gaborone, Botswana
- 3The Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, 651 Huntington Ave, FXB 401, Boston, MA 02115, USA
- 4The University of Botswana, Private Bag UB 0022, Gaborone, Botswana
- Correspondence to: R L Shapiro, Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Immumology and Infectious Disease, 651 Huntington Avenue, FXB 401, Boston MA 02115, USA
- Accepted 29 November 2002
Background: Male circumcision is known to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV, but few studies have been performed to assess its acceptability among either children or adults in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods: We conducted a cross sectional survey in nine geographically representative locations in Botswana to determine the acceptability of male circumcision in the country, as well as the preferred age and setting for male circumcision. Interviews were conducted using standardised questionnaires both before and after an informational session outlining the risks and benefits of male circumcision.
Results: Among 605 people surveyed, the median age was 29 years (range 18–74 years), 52% were male, and >15 ethnicities were represented. Before the informational session, 408 (68%) responded that they would definitely or probably circumcise a male child if circumcision was offered free of charge in a hospital setting; this number increased to 542 (89%) after the informational session. Among 238 uncircumcised men, 145 (61%) stated that they would definitely or probably get circumcised themselves if it were offered free of charge in a hospital setting; this increased to 192 (81%) after the informational session. In a multivariate analysis of all participants, people with children were more likely to favour circumcision than people without children (adjusted odds ratio 1.8, 95% CI 1.0 to 3.4). Most participants (55%) felt that the ideal age for circumcision is before 6 years, and 90% of participants felt that circumcision should be performed in the hospital setting.
Conclusions: Male circumcision appears to be highly acceptable in Botswana. The option for safe circumcision should be made available to parents in Botswana for their male children. Circumcision might also be an acceptable option for adults and adolescents, if its efficacy as an HIV prevention strategy among sexually active people is supported by clinical trials.