No link between circumcision and condom use

Ivor Williams addressing the ACHAP dissemination workshop
Ivor Williams addressing the ACHAP dissemination workshop

A new study has found no evidence to support wide spread perceptions that circumcision decreases condom usage among men.

Researcher Ivor Williams states the study, in its completion stages and due for publication mid year, reveals an insignificant difference in condom use pre and post circumcision.

Presenting on the African Comprehensive HIV/ AIDS Partnership’s (ACHAP) contributions to the national HIV/AIDS response thus far, health economist and consultancy unit manager, Williams revealed this to the stakeholders at a workshop held in Gaborone yesterday.  Williams said the study indicates that 67 percent of men condomised before circumcision, whereas a very slight decline was noted post circumcision at 65.3 percent. 

“Of the total study population, 21.4 percent reveals that they sometimes condomised before they got circumcised, then 21.1 said they condomised afterwards, whereas 12.9 percent never condomised before circumcision and it remains the same even after they got circumcised,” he explained.  In terms of statistical significance, Williams said that the difference the study deduces in terms of condom usage before and after circumcision is less than two percent meant that the difference was insignificant.

“As a result, being circumcised did not negatively affect condom use,” he said. 

The late 2014 study was done in the Gaborone area and in Palapye with a total population of 506 people.  Moreover, the research reveals that the fear of pain is a major deterrent of safe male circumcision in the country. As a result, misconceptions and misinformation about what happens to foreskins post circumcision perpetuated, said Williams.   

“There is a need to demand creative activities or marketing service delivery structures that target older men, as the link between SMC and HIV prevention ‘alienates’ older men,” he said.

He also calls for individualised communication targeting among others friends and sexual partners, to get more people circumcised. 

Botswana adopted safe male circumcision as add-on strategy for HIV prevention in 2009. Its short-term strategy was implemented from 2009-2011.

The national coordinator of the SMC programme, Conrad Ntsuape told the gathering that a 2011 cross-sectional study on circumcision prevalence found out that majority of the 2,973 males aged between 15-49 years studied, said circumcision reduced infection rates among men.These made up 65 percent of the population.  In terms of anticipated risks and complications associated with SMC, Ntsuape said 30.6 percent of men feared that wounds would not heal timely.

“There were widespread within the construction sector that there was no time for the healing process, as workers indicated that they were expected to work,” he said. He reiterated Williams’ concerns that even though SMC acceptability among men in Botswana remained high, fear of pain, complication and deaths, coupled with lack of time and inadequate information on SMC were the main barriers to getting circumcised. “More knowledge on SMC is significantly associated with circumcision status. Future communication strategies should strive to increase awareness and knowledge on SMC facts to dispel myths and concerns around SMC,” he advised.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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