Rural Zulu women’s knowledge of and attitudes towards medical male circumcision
Background: Medical male circumcision (MMC) is a key strategy in the South African HIV infection prevention package. Women may have a potentially powerful role in supporting such a strategy. Circumcision is not a traditional part of Zulu society, and Zulu women may have limited knowledge and ambivalent or negative attitudes towards MMC.
Aim: This study employs quantitative data to expand insight into rural Zulu women’s knowledge of and attitudes towards MMC, and is important as women could potentially yield a powerful positive or negative influence over the decisions of their partners and sons.
Setting: A hospital-based antenatal clinic in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
Methods: Participants were 590 pregnant, mostly isiZulu-speaking women. Data on their knowledge of and attitude towards MMC were collected using a questionnaire and were analysed descriptively.
Results: The majority of the women supported MMC; however, knowledge of the potential benefits was generally poor. Most would encourage their partners and sons to undergo MMC. The preferred place for the procedure was a hospital.
Conclusion: Zulu participants supported MMC and would support their partners and children being circumcised. Knowledge around potential benefits was worryingly poor, and further research into disseminating information is essential. The findings highlight the need for an expanded campaign of health education for women, and innovative means are suggested to enhance information accessibility. Reasons for preferring that MMC be carried out in hospital need to be explored further.