Background There is currently limited information on the acceptability of medical male circumcision (MMC) in India. This study investigated the acceptability of MMC as a HIV prevention strategy among attendees of an HIV voluntary counselling and testing center (VCT) in Mysore, India.
Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted among a consecutive sample of 300 men attending the VCT in Mysore, India, between April and August 2009. After obtaining the informed consent in Kannada, an interviewer administered survey collected demographic, sexual risk behaviour, perceived risk and acceptability of MMC information.
Results Most participants were Hindus (98.2%); 1.5% were Muslims, and 0.3% belonged to other religions. Fifty-three per cent of respondents had less than 7 years of schooling, 27.5% had 8–10 years, 3.0 % had attended high school and 16.0% had more than 12 years. Of participants, 71% were married and 45% made less than 4000 INR per month. About 244(73.9%) said that they had heard of MMC. On being informed about the risks and benefits of male circumcision, 97.9% said that other men should consider MMC to reduce the risk of contracting HIV/STDs. When asked if they would consider being circumcised safely in a hospital or clinic with little/no pain and at low/no cost, only a third (32.1%) said they would consider circumcision. The most important barriers to MMC reported by participants included MMC not being their cultural tradition (90%), fear of stigma and rejection by friends and family (74.8%) and pain (76.7%).
Conclusions While MMC has been shown to be protective against heterosexual acquisition of HIV, little is known about whether it could be implemented in this primarily non-circumcising country. While this study found relatively low acceptability for MMC among VCT clinic attendees, more research on MMC acceptability among other populations, particularly those at high risk for HIV, is warranted.
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