An assessment of students' attitudes and perceptions towards medical male circumcision on Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
In recent years, the positive correlation between male circumcision (MC) and reduced risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been increasingly recognised. Although MC has been practiced for centuries in traditional settings in South Africa, it is fraught with challenges including loss of penis, sepsis and deaths resulting from botched circumcisions. In recognition of the challenges associated with traditional male circumcision (TMC) and the need to increase VMMC as an STI prevention strategy, the South African Department of Health is promoting VMMC which targets males aged 15 years and above. Since 2014, the Department has been implementing the (VMMC) programme in higher education institutions (HEIs). This paper investigates implementation of the voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) campaign and programme on Howard College Campus, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. We implemented a mixed research method with 88 purposively selected students. The study found that the VMMC programme was highly inclusive of relevant stakeholders resulting in 88% reported awareness of the programme among study participants. The study participants reported that VMMC is safe and reliable (85%), reduces the risks of STIs (78.8%), provides positive health benefits (85%), is safer compared to traditional male circumcision (85%), enhance sexual satisfactions (27.5%), and gives a boy a status of being man (33.8%). Despite these positive perceptions, there is a potential for risk compensation given that 33.8% of participants reported that a condom use was not required after undergoing VMMC. The need to adhere to traditional practices was found as a key barrier to the adoption of VMMC. The findings of the study show high positive attitude towards VMMC which calls for a concerted effort in the implementation of VMMC campaigns in HEIs. In addition, there is a need to work closely with traditional health workers to increase health and safety of MC in tradition settings since this is the preferred option for some people. Lastly, VMMC programmes need to be cognisant of the potential of risk compensation associated with VMMC and communicate these to target audience.
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