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December 15, 2018

Bloodless circumcision device launched but men with with small penises may have challenge

Plates used in PrePex circumcision. /JOHN MUCHANGI
Plates used in PrePex circumcision. /JOHN MUCHANGI

An Israeli-made, less painful and bloodless circumcision device was launched in Kenya during PM Benjamin Netanyahu's visit.

PrePex uses a small plastic device to clip the foreskin. This stops blood flow causing the foreskin to die off over seven days. There is no bleeding and stitches are not needed.

The device will encourage more people to get circumcised, said National Aids and STI Programme (Nascop) head Martin Sirengo.

“Most men don't get circumcised for fear of pain but the PrePex circumcision device is less painful and internationally meets the safety threshold,” Sirengo said during the launch in Nairobi on Tuesday.

But according to the design specifications, the device will not benefit men with small reproductive organs. It is also unsuitable for children.

The sizing plates for PrePex are grouped from A to E. Size A is the smallest possible with a diametre of 26 millimetres while the biggest is Size E of 34 millimetres.

The manufacturer, Circ MedTech Public Health Solutions, said the device is currently only available for adults and adolescents above 13 years.

Product specialist Hagit Freud said they have made smaller sizes for children, from infancy to maturity, and have submitted positive results of the first study to the World Health Organisation.

"The company intends to release four smaller sizes to accommodate young adolescents," said Hagit.

"The devices are ready for sale and pending a WHO review which is expected to be completed shortly. Once the new sizes are available the company will update its instructions for users."

The adult PrePex designs have been under trial in Kenya since last year and will be rolled out in nine counties immediately.

These are Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Turkana, Kericho, West Pokot, Mombasa and Nairobi.

Nascop Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme manager Jacob Odhiambo said these are the areas where male circumcision is not traditionally practised by some communities.

"We encourage men from these areas who are above the age of 13 and HIV negative to come forth and get circumcised using the PrePex device which is less painful as compared to the surgical process,” he said.

Circumcision prevents the risk of HIV infection in men by about 60 per cent.

"This model has shown that even if Kenya would stop providing VMMC services, circumcisions already done would continue to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection and effectively reduce the number of new infections," said Odhiambo.

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