40,000 males undergo ‘cut’ in anti-HIV drive

Monday January 3 2011

By Nation Reporter

More than 40,000 men and boys were circumcised during the festive season under a government-sponsored programme for the prevention of HIV.

More than 250,000 males have been circumcised so far giving Kenya the highest number of young men circumcised under the HIV prevention programme in the world.

According to Dr Nicolas Muraguri, the head at the Kenya National Aids/STI Control Programme, a Rapid Results Initiative launched in December captured many males.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) shows Kenya has reached more men than all the other 12 participating countries combined.

While Kenya had recorded 110,000 cuts by June last year, the other 12 East and Southern African countries had a combined reach of 49,000.

By the beginning of December, during the World Aids Day, Public Health minister Beth Mugo said the country had exceeded targets and would scale up the initiative during the holiday season.

“Kenya is the leading country globally in the promotion of Voluntary Male Circumcision as a key strategy in HIV prevention with the service being offered in Nyanza, parts of Nairobi, Western and Rift Valley provinces,” the minister said.

Studies have shown that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection by nearly 60 per cent.

The programme hopes to reach 1.1 million males and prevent an estimated 900,000 new HIV infections for over 20 years.

But the implementing team has raised new concerns. The project targets males over the age of 15 considered sexually active but during the holidays there is a heavy turnout of younger boys.

“More than 45 per cent of clients were younger than 15. Circumcising such young boys will not have an immediate impact on the HIV epidemic, because most of them are not sexually active,” says the update.