Health workers’ perspectives on implementation of an integrated medical male circumcision strategy in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • Rogerio Phili


Background: KwaZulu-Natal province began implementation of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) as an integral part of its HIV infection prevention strategy that includes other programmes such as HIV counselling and testing (HCT), screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis, and other sexual and reproductive health services. This followed randomised controlled trials that showed up to 60% HIV infection risk reduction amongst circumcised men. Implementation of the strategy occurred despite absence of knowledge of operational barriers and its acceptability to health care workers (HCWs).

Objectives: The study aimed to explore HCWs’ perspectives of and barriers to strategy implementation at public sector health facilities to inform implementation policy.

Method: A purposive quota sampling method was used to select HCWs for focus group discussions at three study sites. Participants were asked open-ended questions using an interview schedule based on a literature review to explore acceptability of and perceptions regarding provision of the strategy. Thematic analysis was conducted.

Results: Acceptability of the strategy was high amongst the participants; however, there was limited knowledge of some key concepts of the strategy, personnel role confusion, missed opportunities for client recruitment, and infrastructural constraints. Negative perceptions included beliefs that VMMC would discourage condom use and cause stigma associated with non-circumcision of HIV-positive males, with perceptions of sexual behavioural disinhibition in circumcised men.

Conclusion: There is a need to engage further with stakeholders if implementation of VMMC is to be successful. More training and support needs to be provided to HCWs at public sector facilities.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2071-9736
print ISSN: 1025-9848