Integrated Regional Information Networks - January 23, 2012
NAIROBI, 23 January 2012 (PlusNews) - A small Kenyan study has
found that more women than men feel HIV is a less serious threat
after their male partners are circumcised; the study also made
local news for finding that female partners of recently
circumcised men found sex more enjoyable.
The University of Illinois' Chicago School of Public Health study
of 51 young women - presented in December 2011 in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia, at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and
Sexually transmitted infections in Africa - found that most women
were happy with the appearance of their partner's penis and
enjoyed sex more after circumcision.
However, the study also revealed that more women than men were
likely to perceive HIV as a less serious threat - 51 percent of
men compared with 76 percent of female participants, and to feel
that condoms were less necessary following circumcision - 4
percent of men compared with 51 percent of female participants.
A greater number of women than men said after circumcision, they
were more likely to have more than one sexual partner - 22
percent compared with 2 percent of men, and to have sex without a
condom - 28 percent against 2 percent of men.
The study was conducted in Nyanza Province, home to the Luo,
Kenya's largest non-circumcising ethnic community and the focus
of the country's male circumcision programme. Since 2008, more
than 350,000 men have been circumcised in Nyanza alone; the
government aims to circumcise 1.1 million men by 2013.
The study's authors say the findings highlight the need to
involve female partners in the male circumcision process, which
has a strong counselling component, impressing upon men the
partial nature of the procedure's protection against HIV.
"If women do not have a good understanding of the partial
protection afforded by male circumcision against HIV, they may
view circumcised men as 'safe' or even HIV-negative, just because
they are circumcised," said Nelli Westercamp of the University of
Illinois School of Public Health, one of the study's authors.
"It is crucial to involve women in the male circumcision
decision-making, whether through counselling or public health
education specifically targeting women. Couples' counselling
before the procedure would perhaps be the most beneficial for
women whose partners want to go for the cut," she added. "It will
not only clarify the concept of partial protection, but also
could make a difference in the men's healing process and time of
resumption of sex after the procedure, if the woman is involved
and supports the man through the process."
According to Ronnie Asino, the district project coordinator for
the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, community outreach
programmes target both men and women on all aspects of male
circumcision. "We have community outreach programmes where we
hold sensitization forums to educate people, including women, on
the various aspects of male circumcision," he said.
Asino noted that married men were usually accompanied by their
spouses and were therefore more likely to benefit from couples'
counselling before the procedure. "Unmarried men will show up
alone and it is them whose partners are more likely to miss out
on the counselling provided," he added.