Rwanda Launches Male Circumcision Campaign To Help Reduce Spread of HIV
Rwanda recently launched a male circumcision program in an effort to help reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, BBC News reports. Innocent Nyaruhirira, Rwanda's HIV/AIDS minister, said the program initially will target infants, the army, police and university students (BBC News, 1/22).
Rwanda in September 2007 announced plans to launch the campaign. 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, 9/7/07).
Nyaruhirira said that Rwanda made the decision to launch the campaign "from a statistical point of view," 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 circumcision to ensure that there are enough qualified people to perform the procedure. The program will be voluntary, but those in the army likely will see circumcision promotion as an order, BBC News reports.
Male circumcision is rare in Rwanda because the country's primarily Christian population does not practice the procedure, according to BBC News. World Bank figures from 2007 place the country's HIV/AIDS prevalence at about 3% (BBC News, 1/22).