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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - PLoS One
Title Voluntary medical male circumcision: A cross-sectional study comparing circumcision self-report and physical examination findings in Lesotho
Volume 11
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 0-0
Background: Overwhelming evidence, including three clinical trials, shows that male circumcision (MC) reduces the risk of HIV infection among men. However, data from recent Lesotho Demographic and Health Surveys do not demonstrate MC to be protective against HIV. These contradictory findings could partially be due to inaccurate self-reported MC status used to estimate MC prevalence. This study describes MC characteristics among men applying for Lesotho Defence Force recruitment and seeks to assess MC self-reported accuracy through comparison with physical-examination-based data. Methods and Findings: During Lesotho Defence Force applicant screening in 2009, 241 (77%) of 312 men, aged 18–25 y, consented to a self-administered demographic and MC characteristic survey and physician-performed genital examination. The extent of foreskin removal was graded on a scale of 1 (no evidence of MC) to 4 (complete MC). MC was self-reported by 27% (n = 64/239) of participants. Of the 64 men self-reporting being circumcised, physical exam showed that 23% had no evidence of circumcision, 27% had partial circumcision, and 50% had complete circumcision. Of the MCs reportedly performed by a medical provider, 3% were Grade 1 and 73% were Grade 4. Of the MCs reportedly performed by traditional circumcisers, 41% were Grade 1, while 28% were Grade 4. Among participants self-reporting being circumcised, the odds of MC status misclassification were seven times higher among those reportedly circumcised by initiation school personnel (odds ratio = 7.22; 95% CI = 2.29–22.75). Conclusions: Approximately 27% of participants self-reported being circumcised. However, only 50% of these men had complete MC as determined by a physical exam. Given this low MC self-report accuracy, countries scaling up voluntary medical MC (VMMC) should obtain physical-exam-based MC data to guide service delivery and cost estimates. HIV prevention messages promoting VMMC should provide comprehensive education regarding the definition of VMMC.

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