Prevalence of male circumcision

Export Indicator

Percentage of men 15–49 that are circumcised
What it measures

Progress towards increased coverage of male circumcision


Compelling evidence indicates that male circumcision reduces the risk of men heterosexually acquiring HIV infection by approximately 60%. Three randomized controlled trials have shown that male circumcision provided by well-trained health professionals in properly equipped settings is safe and can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. WHO/UNAIDS recommendations emphasize that male circumcision should be considered an efficacious intervention for HIV prevention in countries and regions with heterosexual epidemics, high HIV prevalence and low male circumcision prevalence.


Number of male respondents aged 15–49 who report that they are circumcised


Number of all male respondents aged 15–49 years



Method of measurement

Population-based surveys (Demographic and Health Survey, AIDS Indicator Survey, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys or other representative survey)

Measurement frequency

Every 3–5 years

  • Age (15–19, 20–24 and 25–49 years)
  • Source or practitioner of circumcision procedure: formal health-care system or traditional
  • Cities and other administrative areas of importance
Additional information requested

Please provide city-specific data for this indicator. Space has been created in the data entry sheet to provide information for the capital city as well as one or two other key cities of high epidemiological relevance: for example, those that have the highest HIV burden or have committed to ending AIDS by 2030.

Strengths and weaknesses

A programme may or may not change the rate of male circumcision. For example, changing societal norms not caused by a programme may lead to changing rates of male circumcision. This indicator measures the total change in the population, regardless of the reasons.

Existing population-based surveys (such as Demographic and Health Surveys) may not accurately measure true male circumcision status because people may lack knowledge of what male circumcision is, be confused about their circumcision status or perceive the social desirability of circumcision status. Other approaches to determining circumcision status might be used: for example, using photographs or drawings (drawings may be more culturally appropriate), prompts or even direct examination. Modelling how changing rates of male circumcision can potential affect HIV incidence requires accurate knowledge of male circumcision status over time.

Further information

A guide to indicators for male circumcision programmes in the formal health-care system. Geneva: World Health Organization and UNAIDS; 2009 (