While the uptake of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is increasing,
South Africa has only attained 20% of its target to circumcise 80% of adult men by
2015. Understanding the factors influencing uptake is essential to meeting these targets.
This qualitative study reports on findings from focus-group discussions with men in
rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, about what factors influence their perceptions of
VMMC. The study found that VMMC is linked to perceptions of masculinity and male
gender identity including sexual health, sexual performance and pleasure, possible risk
compensation and self-identity. Findings highlight the need to understand how these
perceptions of sexual health and performance affect men’s decisions to undergo
circumcision and the implications for uptake of VMMC. The study also highlights the
need for individualised and contextualised information and counselling that can
identify, understand and address the perceptions men have of VMMC, and the impacts
they believe it will have on them.