Uganda To Introduce Male Circumcision Program To Prevent Spread Of HIV

Armen Hareyan's picture

Uganda's Ministry of Health plans to introduce a no-cost, countrywide malecircumcision program in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV, Sam Zaramba,Uganda's director-general of health services, said recently, Uganda's NewVisionreports (Bainemigisha, New Vision, 12/10).

According to final data from two NIH-funded studies -- conducted in Uganda and Kenya and published in the Feb. 23issue of the journal Lancet -- routine male circumcision couldreduce a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by 65%. Theresults of the Uganda and Kenya studies mirrored similar results of a studyconducted in South Africain 2005. In response to the findings, the World HealthOrganization and UNAIDS inMarch recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce transmission of thevirus through heterosexual sex (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/20).

According to Zaramba, health care leaders are consulting HIV/AIDS and servicedelivery stakeholders to determine "how best" to implement the program.Stakeholders on Sunday met in Kampala, Uganda, todiscuss policy and ethical implications associated with the program and tobuild a consensus before launching it. According to Alex Opio, assistantcommissioner of Uganda's National Disease Control, the program "must beacceptable to people of all faiths, tribes, communities and their leaders"to be effective. Opio added that the program will be part of Uganda's ABCprevention strategy -- which stands for abstinence, be faithful and usecondoms.


Attendees at the meeting also discussed a planned survey that aims to establishhow prepared health facilities and the public are for the program. The survey-- which will be conducted in several districts, including Gulu, Kabale, Kampala, Kumi and Mbale-- also will advise policymakers on how to streamline requirements of theprogram; how to train health workers; how to allocate resources for the programwithout negatively affecting existing health programs; and how to best monitorthe procedures. Participants at the meeting also asked for input from Kenya and Rwanda, where similar programs arein place.

The program initially will be implemented in areas with low circumcision ratesand high HIV prevalence, participants said. The participants added that HIVtesting prior to circumcision should not be mandatory because it coulddiscourage some people from undergoing the procedure, the New Vision reports(New Vision, 12/10).

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