Baltimore, MD—More than 1 million men and youth in sub-Saharan Africa have chosen to protect themselves and reduce their risk of contracting HIV by participating in Jhpiego-supported voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programs. This is a significant milestone that contributed to the U.S. Government’s goal of providing 4.7 million men with access to this safe and effective procedure that reduces transmission of HIV by December 2013.
The medical male circumcisions were part of comprehensive HIV-prevention strategies implemented by the governments of 11 East and Southern African countries in partnership with and support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program. The commitment of these U.S. Government agencies, in cooperation with ministries of health and defense force health systems, made possible this singular achievement in the ongoing battle to curtail the spread of HIV and help engender an AIDS-free generation in Africa.
Jhpiego, a non-profit global health affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, provided the technical assistance, innovative approaches and policy guidelines to develop and deliver safe, effective and efficient VMMC services in which nurses played a leading role in assisting in and performing the surgical procedure, an approach designed to build the capacity of African health care workers to provide this needed intervention. The results of randomized trials show that VMMC reduces female-to-male HIV transmission by approximately 60 percent and modeling studies suggest that rapidly scaling up VMMC to reach 80 percent of reproductive age men could avert an estimated 3.4 million new HIV infections.
With generous support from our donors, Jhpiego helps ministries of health and our defense force colleagues offer VMMC as part of a comprehensive package of HIV-prevention services that includes screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections; HIV testing, counseling and referral to care; and condom promotion and HIV risk-reduction counseling. The impact of the 1 million Jhpiego-supported VMMCs performed is extraordinary; models suggest an estimated 128,460new infections could be averted by 2025across these high HIV prevalence countries.
The Jhpiego-supported programs hit this milestone earlier this year as several VMMC programs were underway. The individuals who contributed to this achievement included fathers and sons, brothers and best friends, tribal chiefs and concerned wives, as well as nurses who took on added responsibilities and roles, and health care providers from neighboring countries.
Those who contributed to the milestone included people such as:
- Teacher Mothusi Joseph Kgomo of Botswana, who with parental consent, led a group of his adolescent male students to the local health center to participate in HIV-prevention services and undergo circumcisions, and was the first to be circumcised to set an example for his students.
- Selemani Nyika, a 60-year-old farmer and father in Tanzania who brought 11 of his sons to be circumcised all on the same day. His sons, ranging from 10 to 21, also learned how to protect themselves further by limiting their number of sexual partners, using condoms, and knowing the HIV status of their partners.
- Triza Liyasi, a wife and mother in Malawi who educated herself on VMMC and encouraged her husband Kizito to get circumcised, helping to protect her from the human papillomavirus (HPV) — the leading cause of cervical cancer—and them both from HIV.
- Lt. Suwilanji Musamba, a member of the Zambian Defense Forces who after his circumcision discussed the benefits with his platoon, resulting in nearly 40 percent of the soldiers under his command receiving VMMC services.
“The scale-up of voluntary medical male circumcision is critically important to reduce the future burden of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Jhpiego is proud to have supported VMMC programs in 11 African countries, which have now circumcised over 1 million men, providing them lifelong increased protection from this devastating epidemic,” said Jhpiego President and CEO Dr. Leslie Mancuso. “With strong leadership and support from the U.S. Government and the partnership of local governments, we look forward to continuing the current momentum toward averting HIV infections and pushing the pace of change to create an AIDS-free generation in our lifetime.”