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Shortening the foreskin : probing perceptions towards Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) and Traditional Male Circumcision among University of KwaZulu-Natal African male students.

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Across the world, in populations where circumcision was commonly practiced, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was found to be lower compared to those populations where circumcision was not practiced. Male circumcision was in turn flagged as a potentially important prevention strategy in the HIV/AIDS pandemic. University students constitute an important community in interventions against HIV/AIDS. Given this, this study focused on the embedded cultural complex that would influence male attitudes to take up circumcision. The study was in turn conducted at three of the University of KwaZulu-Natal campuses, where it probed the perceptions of local Black African male students towards Medical male circumcision (MMC) and Traditional male circumcision (TMC). The study worked through social identity theory and social constructivist theory and employed a non-probability sampling technique on local Black African male students between the ages of 18-25. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with 15 participants who included Zulu and Xhosa male students. Findings reveal that the students’ embedded cultural background has an influence on the method of circumcision that the male students chose; whether medical or traditional. The findings also reveal that entrenched constructions of masculinity are believed to be attained by going through the rite of passage in a traditional context while a circumcised man in the medical setting is often not seen as a ‘real man’.


Master of Social Science in Anthropology. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College 2015.


University of KwaZulu-Natal--Students., Circumcision--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal., Masculinity--Youth--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal., Xhosa (African people)--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal--Rites and ceremonies., Zulu (African people)--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal--Rites and ceremonies., HIV infections--South Africa--KwaZulu-Natal--Prevention., Theses--Anthropology., Medical male circumcision (MMC)., Traditional male circumcision (TMC).