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Ugandan Medical Male Circumcision Program Launched to Prevent HIV Transmission

July 10, 2009
First Program in Uganda to Provide Circumcision Services

Uganda was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to register a drop in adult national prevalence in HIV. The epidemic, however, remains serious as approximately one million Ugandans are HIV positive. Experts in the field have begun promoting a low cost and powerful weapon against new HIV infections: voluntary medical male circumcision.

Three trials in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa have demonstrated that male circumcision reduces the rate of HIV infection in heterosexual relationships by 50 to 60 percent. Male circumcision has received endorsements by the World Health Organization and the Uganda Ministry of Health as a proven safe way to prevent the spread of HIV.

Yesterday, the Kayunga District Hospital and Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP) opened the Kayunga District Medical Male Circumcision Program, the first free, non-research male circumcision program in Uganda. They marked the grand opening on July 9th at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a renovated clinic.

Dr. Ahmed Matovu, Kayunga District Hospital Superintendent added, “Circumcision must be utilized in combination with Uganda’s existing HIV sexual prevention messages, which include condom use, faithfulness, or abstinence.”

“The Kayunga District Medical Male Circumcision Program, which has already circumcised more than 220 men, represents hope and progress in the fight against HIV,” said MUWRP’s Mark Breda.

Representatives from the Kayunga District Health Authority, Kayunga District Hospital, Uganda AIDS Control Program, Uganda AIDS Commission, and the U.S. government commemorated the day along with musical performances and a tree planting ceremony. The entire Kayunga community was invited. Participation included the males that have already been circumcised, ranging in age from 13-60, with the average age being 19.

The program is funded using President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) country operational funding. Kayunga is a rural district located in the mid-central part of Uganda, with an estimated population of 320,000 (Uganda population census 2002). The overall estimated prevalence of HIV infection in the district is 9.9%.

MUWRP is a non-profit partnership with Makerere University and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP). While its primary focus has been on developing a globally effective preventive HIV-1 vaccine, MHRP is actively committed to and engaged in providing effective prevention, care and treatment programs in the communities where they conduct research.