Thursday, December 20, 2007

Male circumcision medical breakthrough

CNN and Time have declared Male Circumcision as the biggest medical breakthrough of 2007. This comes with the recent early closure of two clinical trials on male circumcision conducted in Uganda and Kenya which both showed that male risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex is reduced by up to 65%. The findings were very similar to a study conducted in South Africa in 2005.

With such overwhelming evidence, the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS have officially recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce transmission of the virus through heterosexual sex.

Several East African countries have put male circumcision at the top of the Public Health agenda. In Uganda, the Ministry of Health has declared that male circumcision services will be free of charge while Rwanda has announced plans to conduct mass male circumcision.

Principle Investigator for the Trial in Kisumu, Kenya, Professor Robert Bailey says, “If male circumcision is taken up by just 50% of men in areas of sub-Saharan Africa where it is currently little practiced, millions of new HIV infections will be averted in men and women. We cannot treat our way out of this tragic epidemic. Until we have an effective HIV vaccine, which is likely to be decades away, circumcision is a major weapon for preventing new infections in areas where most HIV transmissions are through heterosexual activity. The challenge is now to make safe, affordable circumcision services widely available to the many Africans who now are seeking them.”

Top Scientific Journal, the Lancet has called the discovery “A New Era for Prevention.”