The Joint United Nations Programming on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, has said male circumcision is a high impact and cost-effective prevention tool which could bring the world closer to achieving an HIV-free generation.
UNAIDS executive director, Michel Sidibe, said this while speaking to journalists at the ongoing International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections, STI, in Africa, ICASA, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Sidibe said there is compelling evidence that voluntary medical male circumcision, VMMC, when provided by well-trained health professionals, reduces the risk of sexual transmission of HIV from women to men by approximately 60 per cent.
According to Sidibe, recent modeling commissioned by PEPFAR and UNAIDS found that reaching 80 per cent coverage of adult VMMC in the 14 priority countries would entail performing approximately 20 million circumcisions on men aged 15- 49 by the year 2015. He said, “Such a scale-up would cost a total of US$1.5 billion and would result in a net savings of US$15.5 billion by 2025 due to averted treatment and care costs. An estimated 3.4 million new HIV infections would be averted through 2025.”
Similarly, the UNAIDS and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, yesterday launched a five-year action framework to accelerate the scale- up of VMMC for HIV prevention.
The framework, developed by the World Health Organization, WHO, UNAIDS, PEPFAR, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank in consultation with national ministries of health, calls for the immediate roll- out and expansion of VMMC services in 14 priority countries of eastern and southern Africa.
Speaking at yesterday’s press briefing, the former President of Botswana, Mr Festus Mogae, called on leaders to support and scale up VMMC program in the 14 priority countries.