Estimation of Country-Specific and Global Prevalence of Male Circumcision

May 2016 - Epidemiology

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Morris, B.J., Wamai, R.G., Henebeng, E.B., et al. Population Health Metrics (March 2016), 14(4), doi:10.1186/s12963-016-0073-5.

The authors determined the current country-by-country and global prevalence of male circumcision (MC) by reviewing articles through a PubMed search and examining country-level Demographic and Health Surveys, AIDS Indicator Surveys, and Behavioral Surveillance Surveys. They developed estimates for every country and territory in the world (N = 237) by using 2015 figures on sex ratios, total populations, and males aged 15–64 years derived from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the United Nations. Their findings suggested a global MC prevalence of approximately 37.7 percent, although the real percentage could be slightly higher or lower. In some countries, the authors estimated MC prevalence based on populations of ethnic/religious groups known to perform it, most notably Muslims and Jews. However, the authors noted that this was not a completely accurate estimation because 1) uncircumcised Muslims and Jews do exist, so the proportion of circumcised males in these groups is less than 100 percent, and 2) a percentage (possibly 5–10% in developed countries) of males are circumcised for medical reasons unrelated to HIV, such as conservative treatment of early-stage penile cancer. The authors concluded that their findings on the current prevalence of MC across geographies and cultures may help guide policy development and resource allocation in all countries.

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