Knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of pharmacy and nursing students towards male circumcision and HIV in a KwaZulu-Natal University, South Africa.
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Background: Male circumcision is currently being promoted in South Africa as a Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention method. Effective implementation requires that healthcare providers should believe in the procedure’s efficacy and should possess a positive attitude. A study was undertaken amongst pharmacy and nursing students with different objectives. Objectives: To ascertain students’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions regarding male circumcision and (HIV) prevention. Method: A descriptive cross-sectional study using anonymous questionnaires was undertaken amongst 4th year pharmacy and nursing students studying at a university in KwaZulu-Natal, after obtaining their consent. Data were captured and analysed using SPSS version 15. Results: A response rate of 83.18% and a mean knowledge score of 66.43% with relatively positive attitudes (62.7) were obtained; 85.4% of the respondents felt that promoting male circumcision is appropriate, with all Muslim students (n < 11) supporting the promotion of male circumcision. Even though all Muslim students supported male circumcision, only 3 students were willing to perform the procedure if adequately trained (p < 0.03). The majority of the female students were unwilling to perform the procedure (p < 0.005). A third of the respondents indicated that male circumcision would both undermine existing protective behaviours and strategies as well as increase riskier sexual behaviour. Over 54% of the respondents believed that the South African Health System would be able to cope with the massive male circumcision drive. The majority of the respondents favoured the procedure to be done at birth. Pain was cited as the most important reason for not wanting to be circumcised. Conclusion: Pharmacy and nursing students have a moderate knowledge of male circumcision and HIV prevention with relatively positive attitudes. The majority felt that promoting male circumcision is appropriate and should be encouraged.