Uganda Should Integrate Male Circumcision Into ABC Method To Prevent Spread of HIV, Some Health Workers Say
Some health professionals have called on Uganda to integrate routine male circumcision into the country's ABC prevention method -- which stands for abstinence, be faithful and use condoms -- to further fight the spread of HIV, the Monitor/AllAfrica.com reports (Nafula, Monitor/AllAfrica.com, 2/27). According to final data from two NIH-funded studies conducted in Uganda and Kenya published in the Feb. 23 issue of the journal Lancet, routine male circumcision could reduce a man's risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex by 65% (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/23). In response to the findings, David Serwadda -- director of the Institute of Public Health at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda -- last week told members of Uganda's Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS that the government needs to create policy that recognizes circumcision as an effective HIV prevention method alongside the ABC strategy. "We want the government to generate a policy for this service to be provided to the public in a safer manner," Serwadda said, adding that if the government does not establish a policy, some people will undergo risky circumcisions and thus have an increased risk of HIV transmission. "Circumcision has very important policy implications, and if for some reason the policy is not formulated, people will go to all categories of people to circumcise them," Serwadda said, adding, "We really need to be proactive and urge this committee to engage in the circumcision debate as the government formulates a five-year strategic plan on HIV/AIDS" (Monitor/AllAfrica.com, 2/27).
Requests for Male Circumcision in Western Kenya Triples
Requests for male circumcision in Kenya's Nyanza Province has tripled since the initial publication of the NIH studies in December 2006, PlusNews reports. According to Reuben Okioma, a physician at New Nyanza Provincial District Hospital, there has been a threefold increase in requests for the procedure since the studies were released. According to PlusNews, people in the province do not traditionally practice circumcision. However, the study's findings "are definitely challenging the traditional views of the community," Okioma said. He added that hospitals in the region have met the increased demand so far, but many more men would request the procedure if it became available at no cost. Kawango Agot, project coordinator of the Kenya trial, said that health professionals are waiting for guidance from the World Health Organization before deciding whether to incorporate male circumcision as a national HIV prevention tool. WHO in early March is scheduled to discuss the policy and operational and ethical issues surrounding the procedure at an international consultation, PlusNews reports (PlusNews, 2/23).