Rwanda Male Circumcision Campaign To Help Reduce Spread Of HIV

Armen Hareyan's picture

Rwanda recently launched a malecircumcision program in an effort to help reduce the spread of HIV and othersexually transmitted infections, BBC News reports. Innocent Nyaruhirira, Rwanda'sHIV/AIDS minister, said the program initially will target infants, the army,police and university students (BBC News, 1/22).


Rwandain September 2007 announced plans to launch the campaign. According to finaldata from two NIH-funded studies -- conducted in Uganda and Kenya and published last year inthe journal Lancet -- routine male circumcision could reduce aman's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by 65%. The results of theUganda and Kenya studies mirrored similar results of a studyconducted in South Africain 2005. In response to the findings, the World HealthOrganization and UNAIDS inMarch 2007 recommended the procedure as a way to help reduce transmission ofthe virus through heterosexual sex (KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/7/07).

Nyaruhirira said that Rwandamade the decision to launch the campaign "from a statistical point ofview," adding, "It is a fact that men who are circumcised are 60%more likely to be protected against HIV during sexual intercourse."According to Nyaruhirira, health workers will be trained on male circumcisionto ensure that there are enough qualified people to perform the procedure. Theprogram will be voluntary, but those in the army likely will see circumcisionpromotion as an order, BBC News reports.

Male circumcision is rare in Rwandabecause the country's primarily Christian population does not practice theprocedure, according to BBC News. World Bank figures from 2007 place the country's HIV/AIDSprevalence at about 3% (BBC News, 1/22).

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