Influence of Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision Communication Strategies on Risk Perception among Secondary School Students in Kenya

Charles O. Wagunda, Joyce Agalo, John Oluoch


This paper analyses the influence of communication strategies on risk perception of circumcised male secondary school students in Kenya. Male  circumcision  is  a  surgical  removal  of  the  foreskin  and  can  be  done  as  a  traditional culture  or  medical  influence.  In this  regard,  we  are  talking  about  the  medically  influenced circumcision,  hence,  its  name  being  Voluntary  Medical  Male  Circumcision (VMMC). Research  has  shown  that  the  risk  of  a  medically  circumcised  male  contracting Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) during vaginal sex is reduced by up to 60%, compared to that of an uncircumcised man. However, there is increasing concern that communication of VMMC related messages continues to be done in a disorganized manner in secondary schools and thus circumcised boys may still embark on risky sexual choices despite information that VMMC only offers partial protection from HIV infection. The literature reviewed reveals that there is limited research that has assessed the influence of VMMC communication strategies on risky sexual choices. The study adopted a descriptive survey and was conducted in schools in Migori County in Kenya. It involved 306 male student participants. Data was generated through questionnaires and informant interviews. Quantitative data was presented percentages while qualitative data was analyzed thematically. Findings indicated that whereas circumcised male secondary school students recalled key VMMC messages obtained through informal interpersonal communication, negotiated decoding of VMMC messages still existed. Based on the findings, it is recommended that future VMMC communication efforts use trained peer educators who would accurately capture positive narratives that promote VMMC and at the same time emphasize that there is no cure for HIV/AIDS and that every person could become infected including medically circumcised males.

Keywords: Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision, Communication strategy, Risk Compensation

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