Box 8.5

The importance of field-testing materials: lessons learned from Orange Farm

When staff members of the Bophelo Pele Male Circumcision Project at Orange Farm, South Africa, began a research study to determine whether adult medical male circumcision would help to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, they were surprised to find that many men did not know whether they were circumcised or not. The staff quickly printed brochures with photographs of a fully circumcised penis and an uncircumcised penis, so that men could see the difference.

Some community members were disturbed seeing photographs of penises in materials. “We asked for suggestions of other ways to explain the differences, and community members suggested that we use drawings, which were less offensive to them,” said Dirk Taljaard, project manager of the Bophelo Pele Male Circumcision Project. The team immediately revised the materials, and now uses drawings to show the anatomical differences.