Medical male circumcision: How does price affect the risk-profile of take-up?

Rebecca Thornton, Susan Godlonton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective The benefit of male circumcision is greatest among men who are most at risk of HIV infection. Encouraging this population of men to get circumcised maximizes the benefit that can be achieved through the scale-up of circumcision programs. This paper examines how the price of circumcision affects the risk profile of men who receive a voluntary medical circumcision. Methods In 2010, 1649 uncircumcised adult men in urban Malawi were interviewed and provided a voucher for a subsidized voluntary medical male circumcision, at randomly assigned prices. Clinical data were collected indicating whether the men in the study received a circumcision. Results Men who took-up circumcision with a zero-priced voucher were 25 percentage points less likely than those who took-up with a positive-price voucher, to be from a tribe that traditionally circumcises (p = 0.101). Zero-priced vouchers also brought in men with more sexual partners in the past year (p = 0.075) and past month (p = 0.003). None of the men who were most at risk of HIV at baseline (those with multiple partners and who did not use a condom the last time they had sex) received a circumcision if they were offered a positive-priced voucher. Lowering the price to zero increased circumcision take-up to 25% for men of this risk group. The effect of price on take-up was largest among those at highest risk (p = 0.096). Conclusions Reducing the price of circumcision surgery to zero can increase take-up among those who are most at risk of HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Financial incentives
  • HIV prevention
  • Male circumcision
  • RCT
  • Selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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