Qualitative Research on Male Circumcision in Namibia
This assessment examined attitudes and perceptions toward male circumcision as part of a larger situational analysis of male circumcision in Namibia that was designed to inform the development of a national prevention strategy. The research, conducted for the Ministry of Health and Social Services, was conducted in 2008 and collected information on: 1) the perceived benefits and drawbacks of male circumcision, 2) attitudes of individuals toward male circumcision, 3) key influences on the decision to circumcise, and 4) public understanding of the relationship between HIV and male circumcision. Data were collected through focus group discussions and key informant interview in eight regions. Perceived advantages and disadvantages of male circumcision centered around four areas: health and hygiene, culture/tradition, sexual pleasure, and normative beliefs. Despite some perceived disadvantages, participants overall endorsed male circumcision, especially relative to health. Their main concerns related to the quality and safety of the procedure, accessibility, the coordination of efforts among providers (medical and traditional), the benefits to women, and the possible tendency toward disinhibition (i.e., increase in risk-taking behaviors due to the false belief that circumcision provides immunity to infection). Respondents expressed overwhelming support for the government to educate the public on male circumcision. Many respondents felt that a clear and comprehensive education program—one that would incorporate local authorities, door-to-door educators, and media sources, such as radio—would reduce misconceptions about and encourage uptake of male circumcision.