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March 21, 2018

Circumcisions save 20,000 people from HIV, new Kenyan data shows

Doctors doing a male circumcision. In total, the cuts already provided will avert 160,000 new HIV infections by 2030.
Doctors doing a male circumcision. In total, the cuts already provided will avert 160,000 new HIV infections by 2030.

Male circumcision campaign has already saved about 25,000 people, mostly from Western Kenya, from being infected with HIV in the last seven years, new data shows.

 In total, the circumcisions already provided will avert 160,000 new HIV infections by 2030.

 “Voluntary medical male circumcision is efficient. The number of VMMC required to avert one new infection could be as low as five to 15,” says John Stover, a member of the US-based HIV Modeling Consortium and founder of Avenir Health, a health programmes organisation.

 Stover presented the Kenyan VMMC modeling data at the second HIV Research for Prevention conference (HIVR4P) in Chicago.

 HIVR4P is the world’s first and only scientific meeting dedicated exclusively to biomedical HIV prevention research. 

The results shows the VMMC programme has already made considerable impact and benefits will only grow in future.

 The study was carried out by the National Aids and STIs Control Programme (Nascop), Avenir Health, Imperial College London, US-based Institute for Disease Modeling, and consultants from Kisumu. 

Traditional male circumcision rates are over 90 per cent in most of Kenya but only 45 per cent in Nyanza.

 The government launched a national VMMC strategy in 2008 targeting 10 priority counties with low rates of traditional circumcision.

 This target of 860,000 people was achieved in 2013 and by last year, 1.2 million circumcisions had been carried out. 

The World Health Organisation and Unaids recommend VMMC as a key component of HIV prevention in countries with a high prevalence and low levels of male circumcision. 

As a result, to date 14 countries including Kenya, Botswana, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe have expanded the programme. 

The WHO and Unaids recommends the programmes in countries where they will have the greatest public health benefit. 

The research presented in Chicago shows that Kenya will reach a break-even point in 2026. 

This is where the country will start to derive immense savings in healthcare, surpassing than the millions of shillings the country has spent on circumcisions.

 The next phase of Kenya’s VMMC strategy aims to see 95 per cent of men aged 15 to 49 years circumcised by 2019.

 Other key areas of focus include offering age-appropriate services for young infants aged 0 to 60 days and adolescents (10 to 14 years). The country also aims to encourage safer surgical practices among traditionally circumcising communities.

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