Substantial but spatially heterogeneous progress in male circumcision for HIV prevention in South Africa

Type Journal Article - Communications Medicine
Title Substantial but spatially heterogeneous progress in male circumcision for HIV prevention in South Africa
Volume 4
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2024
Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) reduces the risk of male HIV acquisition by 60 percent. Programmes to provide VMMCs for HIV prevention have been introduced in sub-Saharan African countries with high HIV burden. Traditional circumcision is also a long-standing male coming-of-age ritual, but practices vary considerably across populations. Accurate estimates of circumcision coverage by age, type, and time at subnational levels are required for planning and delivering VMMCs to meet targets and evaluating their impacts on HIV incidence. We developed a Bayesian competing risks time-to-event model to produce region-age-time-type specific probabilities and coverage of male circumcision with probabilistic uncertainty. The model jointly synthesises data from household surveys and health system data on the number of VMMCs conducted. We demonstrated the model using data from five household surveys and VMMC programme data to produce estimates of circumcision coverage for 52 districts in South Africa between 2008 and 2019. Nationally, in 2008, 24.1 percent (95 percent CI: 23.4–24.8 percent) of men aged 15–49 were traditionally circumcised and 19.4 percent (18.9–20.0 percent) were medically circumcised. Between 2010 and 2019, 4.25 million VMMCs were conducted. Circumcision coverage among men aged 15–49 increased to 64.0 percent (63.2–64.9 percent) and medical circumcision coverage to 42 percent (41.3–43.0 percent). Circumcision coverage varied widely across districts, ranging from 13.4 to 86.3 percent. The average age of traditional circumcision ranged between 13 and 19 years, depending on local cultural practices. South Africa has made substantial, but heterogeneous, progress towards increasing medical circumcision coverage. Detailed subnational information on coverage and practices can guide programmes to identify unmet need to achieve national and international targets.

Related studies