UN Scales Up Male Circumcisions in Africa

Voluntary medical male circumcision will bring the world one step closer to reaching an HIV-free generation, Joint U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said Monday (Dec. 5) at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In the conference, UNAIDS unveiled a five-year action framework it developed with the World Health Organization, The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank in consultation with national health ministries. Under the framework, male circumcision in 14 priority countries in Eastern and Southern Africa would be scaled up. The new action framework, which would cost $1.5 billion in total, will help avert an estimated 3.4 million new HIV infections and save $16.5 billion come 2025.

“Each HIV infection averted is money in the bank and fiscal space for the future,” Sidibé said.

Voluntary medical male circumcision has been found to reduce the risk of HIV sexual transmission by 60 percent when carried out by well-trained health professionals. The WHO and UNAIDS have urged countries with high HIV prevalence to expand access to safe male circumcisions.

Just last year, 550,000 men between the ages of 15 and 49 have been circumcised in the 14 priority countries. If the new action framework is able to cover 80 percent of its target population, 20 million men would be circumcised by 2015.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.