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Neonatal male circumcision is safer, easier and cheaper than adult male circumcision, but is not widely practised in Swaziland. It has been suggested as one of several ways of controlling the spread of HIV. We conducted research aimed at assessing mothers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards circumcision and reasons why mothers have their newly born male children circumcised. A cross-sectional study was conducted at Hlatikulu Government Hospital, a rural hospital in Shiselweni region, Swaziland. The target population was mothers with children younger than 6 months old who presented at the hospital. Of the 392 participants who were interviewed, 43 (11.2%) had circumcised their children. The participants’ ages ranged from 15 to 44 with a mean age of 25.3 years. All the respondents had a mean knowledge score of 7.8 out of a maximum possible of 11, a mean attitudes score of 3.6 out of 6 and a mean perception score of 1.8 out of 3. The main reasons for mothers circumcising their children were to keep the penile organ clean (97.7%), to reduce sexually transmitted infections when one is sexually active (97.7%) and to reduce HIV transmission (97.7%). Participants who did not circumcise their children cited mainly that their spouses did not approve (84.5%), that they were anxious about complications after the operation (44.4%) and fear that their newborns would feel pain (54.4%). The mothers in this study had high knowledge, positive attitudes and perceptions towards male neonatal circumcision, but the circumcision levels are still very low. Interventions need to be directed towards providing accurate information and resources that facilitate mothers, and to a greater extend fathers, in making the decision to circumcise their male children and being able to act on that decision.
Keywords: attitudes, HIV, knowledge, perceptions