Young Men's Perception of Male Circumcision at the University of Zambia in Lusaka: Implications for HIV/AIDS Prevention

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Lisulo, Monde
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This is a report of the study that was conducted at The University of Zambia (UNZA) main campus to explore the perceptions of male students towards male circumcision (MC) and its effectiveness as a complimentary method of HIV/AIDS prevention. It was an exploratory study that used both qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis. The population of the study was students at UNZA main campus. Data was collected using semistructured questionnaires and through focus group discussions (FGD). Forty-two respondents answered the semi-structured questionnaires and 40 participants were involved in the FGDs. A tape recorder was used during the FGDs. The recordings were later transcribed for data analysis and interpretation. The age range of the study participants was 18 to 38 years, with a median age of 23 years. The study shows that perception towards male circumcision is influenced by a number of factors including cultural and social upbringing, friends and the media. The media seemed to have greater influence on the perception (48%); because it was said to put forward facts about MC. The media in this case included television, radio, brochures, posters and workshop handouts. Cultural influence was minimal (18%). Moreover, 71% of the participants said their cultures did not have any preconceived beliefs about MC. Most of these also said their families would not react negatively if they decided to get circumcised, even if they were from non-circumcising cultures.There was no particular non-circumcising tribe that was more against MC than other tribes. The case was similar with age, school, programme, year of study and areas where participants were brought up. Most students said they did not think that people who were circumcised were stigmatized. However, analysis of the findings revealed that there was some level of stigmatization because of the negative perceptions that some people seemed to have about MC as stated by the participants. The general perception that came out about MC was that it is an “ok practice” although slightly over half of the study participants (57%) felt that it could not be used as an effective method of HIV/AIDS prevention. They felt that evidence available so far in favour of its effectiveness was not enough to convince them. However, about half (51%) of the study participants nevertheless felt that it should still be promoted and left for men to make their own decisions whether to adopt it or not. They also said that more research should be conducted, here in Zambia also and more evidence be presented to show just how effective it could be. Some participants felt that promoting MC might encourage men to abandon use of condoms, and consequently increase infection rates. There was an indication that risk compensation did actually exist among the circumcised students. However, the tendency not to use any protection like condoms during sexual intercourse was reported even among non-circumcised students and those who had multiple sexual partners, making a conclusion that risk compensation exists among circumcised students inconclusive and invalid for now. In conclusion, most male students’ perception about MC is mainly influenced by information they receive through various media. The campaigns to promote MC could therefore continue and work to provide the students with more information and facts about MC and its role in reducing the risk of HIV infection in men.
Male---Circumcision , HIV/AIDS--- Prevention