AP Examines Male Circumcision Efforts In Africa, Including Adult Circumcision Devices

The Associated Press examines efforts to prevent the spread of HIV by circumcising “about 50 million men across Africa – where 70 percent of the world’s HIV-infected population lives.” The procedure has been shown to lower a man’s risk of HIV infection through heterosexual sex, prompting “[c]ountries with high HIV rates, including Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia and Zambia,” to include male circumcision in their HIV prevention plans, the news service writes.

The AP looks at a new male circumcision device that according to researchers is less painful and requires less time for health workers compared to traditional circumcision techniques. The Chinese-developed “ShangRing consists of two plastic rings, one slightly smaller than the other, that trap the foreskin in between them. With the use of some anesthesia, the foreskin can then be snipped off without major bleeding or stitches. The device is kept on for 10 days to allow the wound to heal,” the news service writes.

“According to Chinese data, the complication rate in thousands of men who have had the ShangRing is less than 5 percent,” while with “traditional circumcisions in Africa, it can be as high as 15 percent. A surgical circumcision takes about 20 minutes; one with the ShangRing can be done in about five. … In the 40 men tested in Kenya, 90 percent said they were satisfied with the procedure,” the AP reports.

According to the news service, researchers are scheduled to launch a larger study in Kenya later this year. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation plans to spend $4 million to support studies evaluating ShangRing and is examining other adult male circumcision devices, the AP reports.

According to “Kim Dickson, an AIDS expert at the World Health Organization, … mass circumcision  could prevent about 4 million adult HIV infections between 2009 and 2025,” the AP reports. “Circumcision will likely avert far more deaths per dollar spent than other things we’re spending HIV money on,” Philip Stevens, of the International Policy Network, said. “The main problem I can foresee with this is actually persuading men to sign up for it.”

The article anotes that “[e]xperts are also concerned men who get circumcised will mistakenly think they are immune to HIV” (Cheng, 2/15).

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