Circumcision reduces HIV infection risk by 60% in heterosexual men, it could reduce the number of HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa by over six million over the next two decades, says an international team of researchers led by Catherine Hankins, Chief Scientific Adviser, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Over three million lives could be saved in sub-Saharan Africa alone, they say.
You can read about this study in the journal PLoS Medicine.
Data from studies in 2005 was used to calculate HIV infection rates among areas where most men are circumcised and areas where most men are not. The information was then used to predict future infection rates and totals. By using a mathematical model, the researchers then predicted how many men in Sub-Saharan Africa would be infected with HIV over the next twenty years if they were all circumcised.
If all men in Sub-Saharan Africa were circumcised, they calculated that…
During the first 10 years:
300,000 deaths would be avoided
During the second ten years:
2,700,000 more deaths would be avoided
3,700,000 infections would be prevented
Although men would benefit the most, women would also benefit as a consequence, say the scientists.
Catherine Hankins said “The big message from the paper is that there is a tremendous potential for male circumcision to have an effect on the HIV epidemic, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Safety, acceptability and cost of male circumcision will also be important beyond just modelling this impact, because if you do not get increased uptake you will not see any of these effects.”
According to Hankins, prevalence of male circumcision is high in west and central Africa and low in southern and eastern Africa. Prevalence of HIV/AIDS is lower in west and central Africa and high in southern and eastern Africa.
It is crucial, say many experts, that before embarking on any voluntary circumcision campaign, that people understand there is still a serious risk of infection. The best way to avoid infection is either by abstaining or using a condom.
The Potential Impact of Male Circumcision on HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa
Brian G. Williams, James O. Lloyd-Smith, Eleanor Gouws, Catherine Hankins, Wayne M. Getz, John Hargrove, Isabelle de Zoysa, Christopher Dye, Bertran Auvert
Click Here to see Abstract and Article online
The work of JOLS and WMG was supported by NIH-NIDA grant R01-DA10135 and a James S. McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Science Initiative grant. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.