Since the completion of three clinical trials indicating that voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) is an effective method to reduce men’s chances of acquiring HIV, use of the procedure has been advocated in Kenya. Media messages shape popular understandings of the benefits and limitations of male circumcision. The objectives of this study were to (1) investigate promotion messages in a popular online newspaper to determine how the limitations of male circumcision are represented, and whether condom use is still being promoted; and (2) gain insight into popular understandings of the limitations of this new procedure through newspaper reader comments.
A content analysis was conducted on 34 online media articles published by the Daily Nation between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2010. Information about condom promotion, partial immunity, limitations and complications of the procedure, as well as emergent themes, were analyzed.
Results demonstrated an irregular and occasionally misleading presentation of these topics and a perceived lack of objective information about the risks and limitations of VMMC.
There is a need for governmental and non-governmental public health organizations to engage with the media to improve risk messaging.
Keywords: Sexually transmitted infections, (East) Africa, HIV prevention, Media analysis, Male circumcision (MC)