The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Nyanza Residents Warm Up to Infant Male Circumcision

THE National Male Circumcision taskforce got a major boost in its strategy to focus circumcision on infants after 92 percent of the parents agreed to the strategy. The research, conducted by the University of Illinois and the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society to assess the acceptability of infant male circumcision, said many parents want their children to be circumcised at certain ages.

Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programmes like Kenya's focus on reducing HIV infections by increasing uptake of male circumcision among adult men and adolescents. The study, published in the Paediatrics journal, sampled 627 women and 493 men in Nyanza and found out that Fathers are the primary decision makers on whether to circumcise their infant sons.

The study was conducted from March to October 2010 at five government hospitals focussed on reality of acceptability and decision-making among parents who had accepted or declined the offer of IMC. Mothers were approached individually and asked whether they would like to have their infant sons circumcised. Those who accepted were asked by the researchers for permission to contact their husbands.

The research found out that mothers appeared to belief that circumcised men experience more sexual pleasure, while fathers were more likely to accept IMC if they thought women enjoyed sex more with circumcised men. Mothers also cited protection against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, penile hygiene and religious reasons.

Fathers gave similar reasons, but many cited penile hygiene as the main reason for accepting IMC. Reasons given against the IMC by mothers were pain, risk of injury or complications, deferring circumcision to an older age, opposition by the father and reluctance to go against cultural tradition.

Fathers cited going against tradition as their main reason against circumcision. Most parents did not oppose male circumcision while 92 percent want their sons to be circumcised at some age. IMC is rarely practised in Eastern and Southern Africa.

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