AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 1668–1674 | Cite as

Effects of Household Shocks and Poverty on the Timing of Traditional Male Circumcision and HIV Risk in South Africa

  • Atheendar S. Venkataramani
  • Brendan Maughan-Brown
Original Paper


Poverty may influence HIV risk by increasing vulnerability to economic shocks and thereby preventing key health investments. We explored this possibility by examining the relationship between household shocks and the timing of traditional male circumcision, a practice associated with considerable expense and whose HIV-prevention benefits are larger when done earlier, even within young adulthood. Using unique data on a sample of Xhosa men, a group that almost universally practices traditional circumcision, we found that respondents in the poorest households delayed circumcision by 2 years if a household member experienced loss of income or death and/or illness. The impact of these shocks declined with increasing household income. Our findings suggest that interventions that work to mitigate the impact of shocks among the poor may be useful in HIV prevention efforts. More generally, they illustrate that the relationship between HIV and wealth may be more nuanced than assumed in previous work.


Economic shocks Poverty Male circumcision HIV South Africa 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atheendar S. Venkataramani
    • 1
  • Brendan Maughan-Brown
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MedicineMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.The Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU)University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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