Innovative Demand Creation for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Targeting a High Impact Male Population: A Pilot Study Engaging Pregnant Women at Antenatal Clinics in Kampala, Uganda

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Abstract

Background:

Circumcision has been shown to be an effective method of HIV prevention; however, only 28% of Ugandan men aged 15–49 years are circumcised. There is a paucity of data on the role of intimate partners in generating demand for voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). We conducted a pilot study to assess the feasibility of a partner-focused intervention targeting males >25 years.

Methods:

Among pregnant women in their third trimester attending antenatal care we evaluated the impact of a pilot behavior change intervention on VMMC through a quasi-experimental approach. We observed VMMC numbers among spouses of women as per standard practice (comparison phase), and after introducing a behavioral change communication package (intervention phase). Logistic regression was used to compare the odds of VMMC uptake between comparison and intervention phases. We used qualitative methods to evaluate the casual chain using a thematic approach.

Results:

Of the 601 women studied, 90% articulated the health benefits of VMMC and 99% expressed interest in their spouse getting circumcised. Women's knowledge was not increased by the intervention. Four men were circumcised in the comparison and 7 in the intervention phase. The intervention was not associated with higher odds of circumcision (odds ratio 1.5, 95% CI: 0.3 to 6.0, P = 0.65). We interviewed 117 individuals overall with the main enablers for VMMC being: free VMMC, transport reimbursement, and health benefits. Deterrents included misconceptions, lost wages and fear of pain. Most of the uncircumcised men interviewed reported interest in VMMC.

Conclusions:

Our pilot intervention had no significant impact on increasing VMMC demand. The study demonstrated the feasibility of pregnant women engaging their spouses to discuss VMMC.

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