A new study suggests that male circumcision could significantly reduce the load of HIV in Africa.
The findings that has been published in the Journal PLoS Medicine, was done on a research, published in 2005, that suggested circumcision reduced HIV infection risk in heterosexual men by about 60%. Now an international team of researchers have used that data and conducted the research, across Africa to predict the potential impact.
The researchers using mathematical modelling looked at the probable scenario of what would happen if, over the next 10 years, all men in sub-Saharan Africa were circumcised. Their calculation showed that within a decade some two million new HIV infections and 300,000 deaths could be prevented, and that in the ten years after that a further 3.7 million infections and 2.7 million deaths could be avoided. They also mentioned that 1 in 4 of the deaths that could be prevented would be from South Africa.
Catherine Hankins, the chief scientific adviser to the United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) and a co-author on the study, said, "The big message from the paper is that there is a tremendous potential for male circumcision to have an effect on the HIV, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa." Explaining that the team would now try and collect more data from newer trails that are being conducted, especially on the transmission from male to female so as to boost and improve the model, she said, "Safety, acceptability and cost of male circumcision will also be important beyond just modelling this impact, because if you do not get increased uptake you will not see any of these effects."
She further explaining that the current circumcision rates in sub-Saharan Africa differed greatly with each country, she said, "In west and central Africa have high circumcision rates and lower HIV rates, while Southern and eastern Africa has lower circumcision rates and higher HIV rates."
Deborah Jack, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, said, "These findings are encouraging and it is clear the promotion of voluntary circumcision can play an important role in reducing the risk of HIV transmission, as part of a comprehensive prevention programme. However, people who are circumcised can still be infected with HIV and any awareness campaign would have to be extremely careful not to suggest that it protects against HIV or is an alternative to using condoms."