Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rwanda continues with male circumcision roll out.

Rwanda To Launch Campaign Aimed at Addressing Circumcision Myths, Encouraging Procedure in Effort To Prevent HIV

[Feb 26, 2008]

Health authorities in Rwanda are planning to launch a nationwide campaign this year aimed at addressing myths about male circumcision and encouraging men to be circumcised in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV, McClatchy/Miami Herald reports (Bengali, McClatchy/Miami Herald, 2/24).

Rwanda announced plans to launch the campaign in September 2007. According to final data from two NIH-funded studies -- conducted in Uganda and Kenya and published last year in the journal Lancet -- routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by 65%. The results of the Uganda and Kenya studies mirrored similar results of a study conducted in South Africa in 2005. In response to the findings, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS in March 2007 recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce transmission of the virus through heterosexual sex (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/24).

The campaign will initially target the army, police officers and university students, Innocent Nyaruhirira, the country's health minister, said. The campaign will aim to reduce the cost of the procedure, which can be as much as $55 at private hospitals, as well as ensure it is covered by basic health insurance policies.

According to McClatchy/Herald, many men in the country have already received the procedure. Justin Gatete -- a nurse at a clinic in Kigali, Rwanda's capital -- said he performed more than 1,000 circumcisions last year.

"We're not going to wake up one morning and have all men be circumcised," Anita Asiimwe, director of Rwanda's Treatment and Research AIDS Center, said, adding, "We need to see how best to implement this."

Health experts from the U.S. are helping Rwandan officials develop the campaign. The Bush administration has said it would allocate funds in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to make circumcision more accessible in Africa. Kenya, Swaziland and Zambia have announced plans to make the procedure available in public clinics.