Male Circumcision and the Female Question: Do Women Matter in the Promotion of Male Circumcision for HIV/AIDS Prevention?

Salome N. Wawire, Brown University

With studies in Africa showing that male circumcision has a more than 53% preventive effect for HIV/AIDS, the World Health Organization and other health agencies are now recommending male circumcision as a strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention. Many promoters of women's rights and sexual reproductive health fear that a male-oriented approach such as circumcision would erode strides made to advance women's participation in sexual and reproductive health. This paper addresses these concerns by showing and discussing results that indicate that women play an important role in the decision-making process about circumcision. Driven by concerns ranging from health to sexual pleasure, women discuss male circumcision with their sexual partners, and young men also consult with non-sexual partners such as mothers and sisters. I recommend that women be involved in male circumcision programs so as to strengthen acceptability and effectiveness of such programs.

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Presented in Session 84: Gender, Sexual Behavior and HIV/STIs