PEPFAR commits $24m to accelerating MMC efforts in SA

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The US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has committed to providing $24m to accelerate medical male circumcision (MMC) efforts in South Africa over the next five years, says a R News report.

The report says, medical male circumcision has been widely promoted as a way to curb the HIV infection rate as it has been proven to reduce a man’s lifetime risk of HIV acquisition through heterosexual sex by up to 60%, which in a country like South Africa – that has nearly 7m people living with HIV – cannot be ignored.

Rachael Rawlinson, Chief Operations Officer at CareWorks says their funding will be allocated to areas such as KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng where the risk is high. Rawlinson says CareWorks, the Department of Health and other MMC partners have made a tremendous difference to the lives of the more than 2.3m men who opted to be cut, which is considered a tremendous feat in the fight against HIV.

“Soon SA will reach a point where people on antiretroviral treatment will outstrip new HIV infections, which signifies a turning point in the HIV epidemic. MMC plays a critical role in reaching this turning point and will continue to show public health benefits for years to come,” says Rawlinson.

The report says the next five years, will see the National MMC programme adopt a more ambitious approach to fast-track medical male circumcision among HIV-negative males between the ages of 15 and 49 in an effort to achieve the new target.

By 2020, the WHO wants 25m men across the 14 priority countries in Africa to be circumcised. This effectively means that the annual number of MMCs performed in these regions must more than double to attain the target. Achieving 80% MMC prevalence among sexually active men in the next few years, could avert 3.4m HIV infections by 2025.

“Most of the countries launched their MMC programmes in 2008, and targets were based on the level of HIV risk that each country faced. Even though SA’s target was among the highest, the results are very positive,” remarks Rawlinson.

Rawlinson says medical male circumcision remains a very personal decision, but the health advantages far outweigh the cons.


R News report

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